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OF THE Rose 


o ^ f^c 3R.os 






Copyright © 1971 by Princeton University Press 
Second edition preface © 1983 by Princeton University Press 
Third edition preface © 1995 by Princeton University Press 

Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, 
Princeton, New Jersey 08540 
In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, 
Chichester, West Sussex 

All Rights Reserved 

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data 

Guillaume, de Lorris, fl. 1230. 

[Roman de la Rose. English] 

The romance of the rose / by Guillaume de Lorris and Jean de Meun ; 
translated by Charles Dahlberg. — 3rd ed. 
p. cm. 

Includes bibliographical references and index. 

ISBN 0-691-04456-2 

1. Romances — Translations into English. 2. Courtly love — Poetry. 

I. Jean, de Meun, d. 1305? II. Dahlberg, Charles, 1919- 
III. Title. 

PQ1528.A43 1995 

841 '.1 — dc2o 95-11748 

Third edition, and first Princeton Paperback printing, 1995 

Princeton University Press books are printed on acid-free paper and 
meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee 
on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council 
on Library Resources 

Printed in the United States of America 

3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 



Table of Illustrations 



Preface to the 1983 Edition 


Preface to the 1995 Edition 


Bibliographical Supplement 




The Two Authors 


The Unity of the Two Parts 


The Technique of Irony 


Style and Theme 


The Theme of Love 


The Illustrations 


The Present Translation 


< 9 R ornance of ifye 3R.05C 

Part I ( 1-4058, by Guillaume de Lorris) : The Dream 
of Love 

1. The Garden, the Fountain, and the Rose ( 1-1680) 

2. The God of Love and the Affair of the Heart 

3. The Involvement of Reason and the Castle of 
Jealousy (2971-4058) 





Part II (4059-21780, by Jean de Meun) : The Overthrow 

of Reason 89 

4. Discourse of Reason (4059-7230) 91 

5. The Advice of Friend (7231-10002) 138 

6. The Assault on the Castle. False Seeming’s 

Contribution ( 10003-12380) 179 

7. The Old Woman’s Intercession (12381-14807) 216 

8. Attack and Repulse (14808-15890) 253 

9. Nature’s Confession (15891-19438) 270 

viii Qontents 

10. Genius’s Solution ( 19439-20703) 3 21 

11. Venus’s Conflagration and the Winning of the 

Rose (20704-21780) 339 

Notes 355 

Appendix: Table of Concordances Between Line-Number- 
ing in Langlois and Lecoy Editions 4 2 7 

Bibliography 4 2 9 

Index 439 

Illustrations 45 1 


THE illustrations follow p. 450. The line number refers to the 
line immediately following the miniature’s position in the manu- 
script; captions are in most cases adapted from the manuscript 
rubrics where they exist. All illustrations are reproduced here in 
their actual sizes. 

Figs. 1-28 reproduce the complete schedule 
of illustrations from MS Paris. B. N. fr. 378. 

End of the thirteenth century . 

1. The Dreamer asleep (Langlois, line 1). Fol. 13 R, col. 1 

2. The author describes the images on the wall, Hatred first 
(139). Fol. 13 R, col. 3 

3. Felony (155). Fol. 13 V, col. 1, top 

4. Covetousness (169). Fol. 13 V, col. 1, middle 

5. Avarice (195). Fol. 13 V, col. 2, top 

6. Envy (23 5). Fol. 13 V, col. 2, bottom 

7. Sorrow (291). Fol. 14 R, col. 1 

8. Old Age (339). Fol. 14 R, col. 2 

9. Pope-Holiness (407). Fol. 14 R, col. 3 

10. Poverty (441). Fol. 14 V, col. 1 

11. The Dreamer meets Idleness (582). Fol. 14 V, col. 3 

12. Diversion (801). Fol. 15 V, col. 1 

13. The Fountain of Narcissus (1439). Fol. 17 R, col. 3 

14. The God of Love shoots at the Dreamer-Lover (1681). Fol. 
18 R, col. 1 

15. The Lover kneels to the God of Love (1881). Fol. 18 V, 

col. 1 

16. The Lover performs the act of homage to the God of Love 
(i 9 55). Fol. 18 V, col. 3 

17. Fair Welcoming and the Lover (2797). Fol. 21 R, col. 2 

18. Resistance and the Lover (2943). Fol. 21 V, col. 2 

19. Reason and the Lover (2998). Fol. 21 V, col. 3 

20. Friend and the Lover (3123). Fol. 22 R, col. 2 

21. Openness and Pity speak to Resistance (3255). Fol. 22 V, 
col. 1 

22. Venus and Fair Welcoming (3442). Fol. 23 R, col. 2 

x Illustrations 

23. Jealousy and the Lover (3535). Fol. 23 V, col. 1, top 

24. Shame and the Lover (3568). Fol. 23 V, col. 1, bottom 

25. Shame and Fear waken Resistance (3669). Fol. 23 V, col. 3, 

26. The Lover and Resistance ( 3755 )- Fol. 24 R, col. 2 

27. Tower of Jealousy and Resistance (38 67 ) . Fol. 24 V, col. 1 

28. The poet at his desk (4059). Fol. 25 R, col. 1 

Figs. 29-58 are selected from MS Oxford. 

Bodleian Library. Douce 195. French , 1487-95^ 
executed for Charles d'Orleans , Comte d? Angouleme, 
and his wife Louise de Savoie. 

The illuminations are attributed to Robinet Testard. 

Figs. 43-58 constitute the complete sequence from 
line 20471 to the end of the foem. 

29. The trial and death of Virginia (5595)* Fol. 41 R 

30. Fortune and the Lover ( 59 2 3 ) * Fol- 43 R 

31. Nero has Seneca murdered (6211). Fol. 45 R 

32. The story of Hercules (9187). Fol. 65 V 

33. Wealth and the Lover (10051). Fol. 71 R, right 

34. The God of Love speaks to False Seeming (who appears as 
the Lover; 1093 1). Fol. 77 V 

35. False Seeming and Constrained Abstinence as pilgrims 
(12033). Fol. 86 V, bottom 

36. The Old Woman speaks to the messengers (12396). Fol. 89 V 

37. The Old Woman comes to the Lover (14694). Fol. 105 R 

38. Pity helps Openness (against Resistance; i539i).Fol. no V, 

39. Venus speaks to Adonis (15683). Fol. 113 R> left 

40. Origen castrates himself (the better to serve nuns; Emped- 
ocles jumps into fire; 17039). Fol. 122 V 

41. Albumazar’s prediction of the birth of Our Lady (19177). 
Fol. 137 R 

42. The God of Love vests Genius as bishop (19477). Fol. 139 R, 
bottom right 

43. The “Trinitarian” Fountain of Life (20471). Fol. 146 R 

44. Venus before the Castle of Jealousy (2071 1). Fol. 147 V 

45. Venus shoots at the image in the sanctuary (20791). Fol. 148 
V, left 

Illustrations xi 

4 6. Three people and image (at line 9 of the Medusa-head inter- 
polation ; see 20810-11 n.). Fol. 148 V, right 

47. Pygmalion carves an image (20817). Fol. 149 R, left 

48. Pygmalion is overcome by the beauty of the image (20836). 
Fol. 149 R, right 

49. Pygmalion asks his image for grace (20907). Fol. 149 V 

50. Pygmalion dresses the image (20937). Fol. 150 R 

51. Pygmalion plays his instruments before her (21021). Fol. 
150 V 

52. Pygmalion lays her in his bed (21059). Fol. 151 R, left 

53. Pygmalion makes his petition to Venus (21075). Fol. 15 1 R, 

54. Pygmalion finds her alive (21 127). Fol. 151 V 

55. They return thanks to the gods (21171). Fol. 152 R 

56. Venus sets fire to the Castle of Jealousy (2 1251). Fol. 152 V 

57. The Lover gazes upon the sanctuary (21587). Fol. 155 R 

58. The Lover enjoys the rose (21705). Fol. 155 V 

Figs. 59-64 illustrate s fecial 'points . 

59. The Fountain of Narcissus (see 1425-1614 n.). MS B. N. fr. 
12593 (ca. 1365), fol. 12 V 

60. The God of Love shoots the Lover ( 1 68 1 j see 1693-95 n.). 
MS B. N. fr. 1559 (end of thirteenth century), fol. 15 R 

61. Genius, dressed as friar and seated on Nature’s anvil, hears 
her confession (16285; see 16272-84 n.). MS B. N. Roth- 
schild 2800 (1329), fol. 102 R 

62. Pygmalion as Dreamer (see 20817-21 191 n.). MS B. N. fr. 
1565 (1352), fol. 136 R 

63. Rose tree; the Lover, as pilgrim, approaches the sanctuary 
(21619; see 21354 n.). MS B. N. Rothschild 2800 (1329), 
fol. 137 R 

64. The Lover plucks the rose (21705; see 21777-80 n.). MS 
B. N. Rothschild 2800 (1329), fol. 137 V 


^^HIS translation of the Romance of the Rose , the first in 
modern English prose, is one of nearly a dozen volumes during 
the past decade to present an edition, a translation, or a major 
commentary on the Old French poem. The aim of this book is 
to provide a clear, readable text that is as faithful as possible to the 
original, particularly in terms of imagery. Because translations 
have their pitfalls and because thirteenth-century assumptions 
about the use of imagery, indeed of poetry, are very different from 
ours, I have provided a variety of materials that may help the 
reader to approach the poem with an approximation of the perspec- 
tive of that time. The introduction, notes, and illustrations are 
designed primarily to elaborate and clarify such a view of the poem. 

If the book fulfills such an aim, it will do so in large part because 
of the help that many people have given, help that has forestalled 
errors and infelicities in both text and commentary ; those that 
remain are mine alone. D. W. Robertson, Jr., has given freely of 
time, insight, erudition, food, and good fellowship; my debt to 
him will be obvious on page after page. John V. Fleming was 
generous of comment, particularly on the illustrations, in the later 
stages of the preparation of the manuscript. Without their encour- 
agement and that of other friends and colleagues, progress would 
have been even more glacial than it has been. Mrs. Linda Peterson 
and Mrs. Polly Hanford of Princeton University Press have been 
most helpful and encouraging at every stage of the book’s prepara- 
tion ; and the readers of the manuscript have made many valuable 

Various institutions have contributed their help in one way or 
another. Some of the preliminary work took place during a 
predoctoral Fulbright Fellowship; the bulk of the manuscript 
was completed in draft during a sabbatical leave from my post at 
Queens College; and the final stages occupied much of a later short 
leave. At all stages the Librarian, Professor Morris Gelfand, and 
the staff of the Paul Klapper Library at Queens College have been 
cooperative in every possible way. In Paris, I have enjoyed the 
most cordial assistance from the staffs at the Bibliotheque Nationale 

xiv 'Preface 

and the other major collections in the city. The Institut de Recherche 
et d’histoire des Textes of the Centre National de la Recherche 
Scientifique was particularly helpful in getting manuscripts from 
provincial libraries for use in Paris. Princeton University provided 
two grants toward the expenses of obtaining photographs and 

The third volume of the Lecoy edition appeared too late to 
permit its use in the Introduction or Notes to this volume, but I 
have been able to correct the Bibliography and Appendix to 
acknowledge its existence. 

My wife is due thanks for much beyond the hours that we have 
shared in working on the manuscript ; they have all been good 
hours. My fundamental and continuing debt is one that I am glad 
to acknowledge in the dedication. 

Scarsdale y N.Y. , 1969-70 Charles dahlberg 



^✓HIS paperback edition provides the opportunity to correct 
minor errors and to make a few additions to the bibliography. I 
have not attempted a thorough update of the bibliography, since 
Maxwell Luria’s recent A Reader's Guide to the Roman de la 
Rose has a convenient bibliography as part of an excellent guide. 
The Bibliographical Supplement, however, lists works that I men- 
tion in this preface and several that I omitted from my earlier 
Bibliography. Among these is Marc-Rene Jung’s critical bibliog- 
raphy of 1966, “Der Rosenroman in der Kritik seit dem 18. Jahr- 
hundert.” New editions and translations include Andre Lanly’s 
French translation and Karl A. Ott’s edition with facing German 

During recent years, a number of writers have reemphasized 
the contrast between the two authors in their treatment of the 
poem’s allegory. Such is the case even in the relatively small space 
devoted to the poem in Jung’s important book on Latin and French 
allegory, a work that parallels the series of essays by Hans Robert 
Jauss on the origins and development of allegorical poetry up 
to the Romance. In Paul Piehler’s survey of medieval allegory 
through Dante and Pearl , he contrasts Guillaume and Jean in 
their balancing of landscape and dialogue. In works specifically on 
the Romance , Daniel Poirion contrasts Guillaume’s narrative dream 
allegory with Jean’s amplified discursive allegory. Rene Louis’s 
essay on the interpretation of the poem’s erotic allegory opposes 
Guillaume’s idealized, refined love to Jean’s emphasis on the sexual 
and procreative aspects. Jean Charles Payen sees Jean’s concern as 
sexual revolution and the longing for the ideal communal social 
order. And Paul Zumthor establishes distinctions among emblem, 
symbol, and allegory, as well as among allegorical functions (di- 
dactic, deictic, narrative) ; with these distinctions, he sees Guil- 
laume’s part of the Romance as narrative ( recit ) , in contrast to Jean’s, 
which he views as antinarrative, a “deconstruction” that remakes 
Guillaume’s work “on the level of explicative discourse” (1974, 

p. 204). 

xvi ^Preface to the 1983 Edition 

Such contrasts are traditional in Romance criticism. Others, how- 
ever, see a greater degree of unity than has often been granted. 
Karl D. Uitti, on the basis of medieval attitudes toward myth and 
poetry, argues for the unity of the two parts. John Took, in the 
course of his work on the Fiore , supports the idea of the integrity 
of the Romance as a whole. And Maxwell Luria’s edition of an 
important sixteenth-century gloss, in the Collins manuscript of Phil- 
adelphia, offers a medieval view of allegory, one that supports a 
unified reading. 

The Romance* s fourteenth-century reputation is the subject of 
Pierre- Yves BadePs recent book, an extended survey of allusions 
to the poem through the quarrel of the early fifteenth century. 
Other treatments of the quarrel appear in Eric Hicks’ edition, in 
Peter Potansky’s analysis, and in Joseph L. Baird and John R. 
Kane’s translation of the documents. Interest in Christine de Pisan 
has helped to encourage this area of Romance scholarship, as had 
John V. Fleming’s 1965 article “The Moral Reputation of the 
Roman de la Rose Before 1400.” 

Much of the controversy in the fifteenth-century debate centered 
on the validity of the character Reason, and the question is still with 
us. Fleming’s book, The Roman de la Rose: A Study in Allegory 
and Iconography , has of course provoked a good deal of comment, 
not only from several of those whom I have cited above, but also 
from those who question his assumption that Reason’s voice is 
authorial. Michael D. Cherniss, Winthrop Wetherbee, and Thomas 
D. Hill are representative of this skepticism and, with George 
D. Economou, reflect in different ways the notion of “naturalism” 
or “generation” as Jean’s imperative. Fleming has presented his 
position more fully in a recent book, Reason and the Lover . 

For help with corrections and many other matters I am grateful 
to John Benton, Alfred David, John Fleming, and Maxwell Luria. 
Mistakes and infelicities that remain are my responsibility. 

Queens College , CUNY 
May 1983; revised October 1986 

C. D. 


JLSIDE from this preface and some further corrections, 
this edition reproduces the text and apparatus of the 1986 reprinting 
of the 1983 edition. Thanks are due to Lucie Polak for a correction 
and to Suzanne Katz and Marianne Conti for help in obtaining 

Here I review selected scholarship up to 1990 (plus a few later 
titles) under the headings of basic materials, sources and influences, 
the two authors, the nature of the allegorical narrative, the use of first 
person, and the poem’s early reception. References are to the new 
bibliographical supplement, which incorporates that of the earlier 


Heather Arden’s annotated, book-length bibliography (1993) 
gives an idea of the rapid growth of interest in the Roman. Sylvia 
Huot has been most active in the field of manuscript studies; in a 
series of papers (1987b to 1992) and a book (1993), she examines the 
relation of the manuscript tradition to the poem’s early reception and 
to its modern interpretation. Accounts of individual manuscripts also 
appear in Luria (1982b), Mazzoni Peruzzi (1986), and Walters 
(1989, i992a-b). New editions include Poirion’s (1974) and Stru- 
bel’s edition with a French translation (1992; cited from Arden 
1993 :i 9)> each m a single volume. Poirion’s text follows MS B. N. fr. 
25523 (1974:33-35), and Strubel bases his text on MSS B. N. fr. 
12786 and 378 (Arden 1993:19). 

Among guides to the poem, those of Luria (1982a) and Arden 
(1987) provide outlines and narrative summaries. Poirion (1973) and 
Strubel (1984) emphasize the differences between the two authors in 
their critical analyses of the poem. Among reviews of scholarship, 
Ott (1980) explores recent attitudes that see Jean de Meun’s (JdM’s) 
work as a sophisticated literary examination of the themes developed 
in Guillaume de Lorris’s (GdL’s) portion. Ott develops this point 
further (1988) in a review of the work of Badel 1980, Strubel 1984, 
Dufournet ed. 1984, Fleming 1984, Hult 1986, and Nykrog 1986. 
Ott finds among them “a certain consensus” (80) in that they view 

xviii Preface to the 7995 Edition 

JdM’s continuation as a literary work; but Nykrog, he feels, is an ex- 
ception to this consensus in that he sees in JdM’s section an ideologi- 
cal message that reflects nineteenth-century attitudes. Brownlee and 
Huot (1992:1-18) summarize recent trends in the growing field of 
Rose studies, particularly those that involve interdisciplinary inves- 
tigation, literary and codicological approaches to the poem’s medi- 
eval reception, and the various interpretations of the poem’s theme 
of love. 


Among source studies, the greatest attention has been given to 
Ovid: in the Narcissus episode (Harley 1986, Steinle 1986), the 
Pygmalion episode (Cahoon 1986), or both (Poirion 1970, Hill 
1974, Steinle 1987). Huot (1987a) studies the relation of the Medusa 
interpolation ( 11 . 20810-nn) to these episodes and to the Deucalion- 
Pyrrha passage; Brownlee (1982) studies the relation of the Pyg- 
malion and Adonis passages, and Steinle (1987) adds the Narcissus 
passage to these two. These Ovidian borrowings are principally from 
the Metamorphoses ; those from the Ars amatoria are the focus of 
articles by Leicester (1984) on the God of Love’s speech ( 11 . 1884- 
2764) and by Bouche (1977) on the advice of Friend and the Old 
Woman. Other writers emphasize the presence of multiple interac- 
tions with Ovid and others (e.g., Freeman 1976, Huot 1985, Fleming 
1986). Marc Pelen (1987) has explored the adaptation of Ovidian 
irony in GdL. 

The influence of RR on later writers appears in other studies as 
well (see Arden 1993:265-359). Contini (1973), Vanossi (1979), and 
Richards (1981) explore the nexus among RR , the Fiore , and Dante’s 
Commedia\ Took (1979), Dragonetti (1981/1986), Richards (1989), 
and Harrison (1992) further this exploration in the case of the Fiore ; 
and Lynch (1988) examines the relationship between JdM and the 
Commedia. The influence of RR on Chaucer continues to preoccupy 
many writers: Diekstra 1981 and 1988, Patterson 1983, Wallace 
1986, Chance 1988, Finlayson 1988 and 1990, Dean 1989, and Cal- 
abrese 1990, to list a group from the last decade. 


There has continued to be a wide range of attitudes toward the 
two authors. On the basic problem of identification, Rita Lejeune 


^Preface to the 1995 Edition 

(1976) has suggested that GdL may be Guillaume de Lorris II, a 
member of the seignorial family of Lorris. Dragonetti, on the other 
hand, suggests the possibility that the two authors are “only two 
fictions inserted into the design of a single, unique author who wrote 
the entire Roman ” (1978/1986:346; cf. Harrison 1992:290). 

Recent decades have seen increased concern with GdL’s RR as a 
separate poem; a collection of essays (Dufournet 1984) and an entire 
book (Hult 1986) deal nearly exclusively with GdL’s poem. Ribard 
fa 973) sees it as ‘‘polysemantic,” with meanings on the levels of 
human and divine love ; some writers favor the divine aspect (Kame- 
netz 1984, Larmat 1984). Others deal with GdL’s semiology (“the 
process of elaboration of the figures of speech,” Payen 1975:170); 
with the multiplication of framing devices (“cadres”) in GdL’s poem 
(Verhuyck 1974); with the nature of the allegorical forms in his 
narrative (Hicks 1984); or with the influence of the “dream fiction” 
on “the representation of time” and thus on the narrator’s status in 
GdL’s Rose (Baumgartner 1992:22). In another article (1984), Payen 
views GdL’s poem as an art of love for the instruction of the Lover; 
and Accarie (1989) sees in the structure of Guillaume’s poem and in 
the evolution of its allegorical scheme a movement from theoretical 
to practical, from a general art of love to the preparation of a particu- 
lar lover. 

One aspect of the preoccupation with GdL is the question of 
whether his portion, as it stands, is a “finished” piece of work. Uitti 
(1989) and Accarie (1989) both consider this question in the light of 
other “unfinished” medieval works ; Uitti believes that the lack of a 
plot conclusion “constitutes a particularly effective means of closure” 
(58), while Accarie’s analysis of structure (above) suggests a similar 
view. Hult’s detailed analysis, centered principally on the Narcissus 
episode, proposes “that Guillaume’s poem is a finished work, insofar 
as it can be seen to form an artistic whole consistent with stylistic and 
narrative standards of judgment as well as with medieval poetic tradi- 
tions” (1986:6). Hult grants that the “unfinished edge” asks for 
Jean’s continuation (1986:8-9), and several have explored the point 
of nexus between the two poets (cf. Zumthor 1973b, Ribard 1976). 
Huot (1988a) examines the rubrics at the continuation point ( 11 . 
4058-59), and she shows their dependence on the midpoint speech 
( 11 . 10504-678) in which JdM has the God of Love identify the two 
authors. Walters (1992b), following Hult (1986:74-93), charts the 


Preface to the 7995 Edition 

author portraits that appear in many MSS at the continuation point 
or at the midpoint speech. 

Several writers study this speech, the God of Love’s prophecy: 
Dragonetti (1978/1986:351-53, 362-67) in terms of an opposition 
between the two parts; Uitti (1978:212-15; 1980:153-54) in terms of 
the unity between them; Hult (1984:249-50; 1986:10-25, 100- 
101) for the light it throws on the use of the I- narrator’s speaking 
voice and on the questions of authorship and closure; Brownlee 
(1985) in relation to Genius’s rewriting of Guillaume’s description of 
the Garden of Deduit. Uitti, in particular, emphasizes the signifi- 
cance of the speech’s position, at the midpoint of the conjoined work 
(cf. Poirion 1973:3, Brownlee 1985:114-15, Hult 1986:19, Walters 

Interest in JdM has continued to revolve around a number of 
related questions : the extent of unity or discontinuity in his continu- 
ation; whether or not his work is an “anti-Guillaume”; what consti- 
tutes the audacity of his thought. We can look at some of these 
questions below, but we should note two tendencies : to emphasize 
contrasts between the two parts (e.g., Poirion 1973; Hicks 1974; 
Louis 1974; Zumthor 1974; Payen 1976, 1980, 1984; Strubel 1984; 
Nykrog 1986); or to see some degree of unity (e.g., Dahlberg 1977; 
Uitti 1978, 1980; Wimsatt 1979:45, 51, 13m. 18; Took 1979; Luria 
1982b; Fleming 1984; Pelen 1987). 


Interest in allegory in RR has grown since C. S. Lewis’s Allegory of 
Love (cf. Barney 1979:51-55). Two more recent works — Rollinson 
1981, Whitman 1987 — have surveyed classical and medieval Chris- 
tian theories of allegory; for the development of the term allegory in 
two related senses — the rhetorical (one thing is said and another 
meant) and the exegetical (the application of allegory to the interpre- 
tation of texts) — see Whitman 1987:263-68. Whitman also traces 
the separate development of the term personification (269-72). 

Before we look at recent work on allegory, we may review two 
earlier positions on style. Muscatine’s study, Chaucer and the French 
Tradition (195 7), reflected that aspect of rhetoric that concerned 
itself with style levels when he saw GdL’s RR in terms of courtly 
style, and JdM’s in terms of “the realistic style of the bourgeois 


Preface to the 1995 Edition 

tradition” (40, 59) and in terms of philosophic naturalism (74-79). 
Robertson (1962) saw the topic of style in the light of an Augustinian 
aesthetic (53) that emphasizes RR } s development — in both parts — 
through Symbolic actions involving iconographically described 
characters in an iconographically described setting” (197). The use of 
iconographic motifs, and the aesthetic theory that underlies it, relates 
in Robertson’s thought to the topic of allegory. 

Lewis’s idea that allegory is “a struggle between personified ab- 
stractions” (1936:1) has been modified to include symbolism, so that 
his contrast between symbolism as a “mode of thought” and allegory 
as a “mode of expression” (1936:48) has been replaced in Strubel’s 
analysis by the phrase “allegory, mode of thought and of expression” 
(Strubel 1984:11). 

A general review of the development of allegory during the medi- 
eval period in relation to RR appears in Wetherbee 1983. In a more 
specialized view, Quilligan (1977, 1979), for whom the genre of 
allegory is characterized by “the generation of narrative structure out 
of wordplay” (1979:22), finds that JdM criticizes GdL’s use of the 
rose metaphor by pushing it “to absurd lengths” (1977:207) and thus 
implying “that his readers’ goal ... is salacious, mere cony-catching” 
( x 979 :2 43 ; see 11- i5 I 35“5°> 6928-7228). Van Dyke (1985) defines the 
genre differently; the paradigm — Prudentius’s Psychomachia — is a 
“Realistic narrative” (p. 39, citing Barney 1979:22-23), where the 
uppercase “Realism” involved is transcendent rather than everyday 
reality. In Boethius and Alanus, she writes, “the function of the 
allegorical persona is primarily to convey us beyond subjectivity,” and 
even in RR, GdL “presents his vision as an extension of a common 
experience, the onset of love’s domination (11. 21-25)” (71); “with his 
ambivalent imagery,” she believes, “Guillaume directs us to, but not 
beyond, the tension between an objective and a subjective evaluation of 
the allegory” (77). Michael Zink (1986:100) feels that the psycho- 
machic allegorical poem, as an “interior memoir,” is by definition 

A number of these and other recent writers reflect the views of Lewis 
and others that GdL and JdM are opposed. Daniel Poirion thinks 
(1983) that Jean’s discourse aims at a direct connection between speech 
and (sexual) meaning and thus constitutes a criticism of Guillaume’s use 
of allegory. In Robert Gregory’s reading (1983 ^9), JdM’s “demystifi- 
cation of Guillaume’s poem has the peculiar effect of enhancing Guil- 


Preface to the 7995 Edition 

laume’s idealization while, in its turn, Guillaume’s idealization must be 
rejected for Jean’s ‘natural’ view.” Wetherbee’s 1983 essay, “which is 
concerned with the Romance as allegory, concentrates mainly on the 
work of Guillaume,” which he sees as “a striking new departure in the 
use of allegory as a vehicle for the dramatization of psychological 
themes” (310), but he also has a sophisticated argument on JdM’s natu- 
ralism. Douglas Kelly’s recent study of French romance (1992:220) is 
another that sees JdM as rewriting GdL. 

There has also been a tendency to explore more closely the continu- 
ities, as well as the differences, between the two poets. Wimsatt (1970) 
sees Reason, in both sections, as a figure like Boethius’s Philosophy 
(98). Although Piehler (1971) contrasts Guillaume and Jean in their 
balancing of landscape and dialogue, he grants that Jean’s “broadening 
and deepening of the poem was not so alien to Guillaume’s intention as 
sometimes implied” (106). Spearing (1976) finds that “the Dreamer’s 
encounter with Reason has established a moral framework for the 
poem, which is assumed by Jean de Meun quite as much as by 
Guillaume deLorris, though. . . it may well be thatjean accepted it in a 
different spirit. It is the framework of medieval religious orthodoxy” 
( 3 1 )- 

Spearing takes cognizance of RR as a Macrobian vision (1976:25; 

1 9 93 ; 1 9 9), and Pickens (19 74) sees it as a Macrobian somnium because it 
requires interpretation. But Bodenham (1985) and Peden (1985) ques- 
tion the importance of Macrobius. Kruger (1992) argues that while 
“Peden and Bodenham rightly focus attention on the importance of 
Aristotelian dream theory, . . . one must challenge the implication . . . 
that Aristotelian approaches to the dream drove out theories like that of 
Macrobius” (86). Fleming’s perception that RR is both somnium and 
insomnium (1984 :i6i-65;cf.Dahlberg 1977:52) would support aclaim 
for Macrobian interpretation on artistic grounds. Lynch (1988) tries to 
show how JdM develops the genre of philosophic vision “in the 
tradition of Boethius and Alain de Lille,” one of the genres (with love- 
debate and romance) that he inherited from GdL ; it is only in the sense 
of a revision, writes Lynch, that Jean’s work can be called an “anti- 
Guillaume” (122). 

Debate continues on the nature and extent in RR of that variety of 
allegory called irony. Many question its presence, particularly those 
who see JdM as opposed to GdL or who stress JdM’s “naturalism”; 
others see one or another variety of irony (see p. 5 below). Spearing 

Preface to the 19% Edition xxiii 

(1:976 135—36, citing Benton 1968:28-29) evokes Boncompagno of 
Signal principle that irony — absent a speaker’s “gestures” — rests on 
extratextual values, and he applies the principle to La Vieille’s speech; 
further, he argues that “Jean has used the fact that his work purports to 
be no more than a dream as the excuse for an apparent irresponsibility 
which actually points always towards the absent centre — the Christian 
orthodoxy which is associated with the dream as religious vision” (39). 
Quilligan (1979), starting from the medieval sense of irony as the 
opposite of what is said, recognizes that “irony and allegory are in fact 
more kin to one another in narrative action than is commonly sus- 
pected” (132). Van Dyke, however, sees RR as ironic in its balancing of 
“romance” and “allegory,” of the real and the Real (1985 72) ; for her, 
irony lies in contrasts more within the text than between the text and an 
extratextual perception. In this view, “Jean de Meun reverses Guil- 
laume’s priorities [through] an ironic use of allegory” (84). Marc Pelen 
(1987) provides a thorough exploration of RR y s background of “Latin 
poetic irony” in Ovid, Boethius, Alanus, and others. He finds irony in 
both GdL and JdM, and he suggests that “the poem’s irony might focus 
the illusory diversions of the text toward an unstated, single aim” (13). 
For Diekstra, irony in RR is “achieved through the juxtaposition of 
units that are not in themselves ironical” (1988:17); he finds this 
technique even in GdL where, he points out, the narrator’s announce- 
ment that the romance is going to “improve” (1. 2062) precedes the 
God of Love’s commandments that “introduce the Lover to a life of 
unredeemed hardship” (13). 


Earlier accounts of the first-person narrator find the origin in the 
interior monologues of the earlier Old French romances (Muscatine 
1953), in lyric poetry, or, perhaps, in Augustine’s Confessions (Zumthor 
1972:172-73, 371; 1973a). Fleming calls attention to “an overarching 
generic kinship between the Confessions and the Roman de la Rose ” 
(1984:84) as well as to “the fictional . . . use of the first-person voice in 
the Confessions ” (1984:85, citing Vance 1973 and Dahlberg 1977). 

The genre of dream vision is perhaps the most obvious source of first- 
person narration in RR. Spearing notes the distinction in awareness 
between Dreamer and poet (1976 :28 ; cf. Uitti 1978, Lawton 1985 : 64ff, 
Baumgartner 1992), and Nolan (1977) calls GdL “the master who 
brought the technique [of the fallible 7 ] to a point of perfection” (140). 


Preface to the ig% Edition 

In this method, she writes, “the audience must be aware simultaneously 
of two visions . . . the visionary world as it is seen by the stumbling 
narrator and the same world in its universal or spiritual significance” 


Hult (1984; cf. Vitz 1973) extends the picture of the /-voice in GdL 
by showing the effect of JdM’s appropriation of this same /, particularly 
in the midpoint speech where the God of Love reveals the identities — 
and boundaries — of the two authors (11. 10495-678) and in the 
“monologue” at the end of GdL’s portion (1984:250, 265-67). Hult 
argues that in closing the complaint that GdL started ( 1 . 4221, “While I 
thus raved”), “Jean has invested the narrative first-person pronoun with 
still another identity: his own” (267); and that “the long-standing 
vision of Jean as a poetic, or ideological, adversary of the courtly 
Guillaume de Lorris is largely insufficient to account for the texts’ 
formal logic” (p. 269). 

Like Vitz and Hult, Lawton (1985) recognizes the distinction 
between poet and dreamer in dream poetry: “The narratorial persona 
developed in dream poetry, with an explicit time-lapse between the 
writer as poet and the writer as dreamer, is a powerful instrument to 
facilitate the tonal range that comes from fluctuating distance and a 
number of temporal perspectives” (13). JdM, he argues, “makes much 
capital of the narratorial persona ” (68), particularly in his handling of 
the dramatic monologues. “In Jean’s dream-poem,” writes Lawton, 
“the persona ... is the embodiment of dramatic irony. The poet is 
consciously superior to his audience and to himself as dreamer” (73). 

Among these voices are the interlocutors of the discourses, and the 
question of which / is authorial — of who speaks for the poet(s) — 
remains as lively now as in the fifteenth century, when Pierre Col 
evoked the principle of literary decorum: that the characters speak in 
character rather than as mouthpieces for JdM (see Hicks 1977:100- 
103). The view that Genius becomes the final spokesperson — the one 
who utters the “definitive sentence” ( 1 . 19504) of JdM — appears in 
Badel (1980:29-32), Poirion (1983 : i 82), Nykrog (1986 70), and, in a 
sense, in Kelly (1992:271). Badel (1980:25) and Hicks (1974, 1987) 
question the relevance of the notion of decorum. But those who see 
Reason’s as the authorial voice regard decorum as an important feature 
that separates the poet’s voice from those of the other characters, 
certainly from that of the Lover. In recent years, the fullest defense of 
Reason’s voice as authorial appears in Fleming’s Reason and the Lover 


c i Preface to the 7995 Edition 

(1984). Carolyn Dinshaw (1988:34-39) follows Fleming in his analysis 
of Reason’s teaching on language, and Diekstra (1988:18) follows 
Friedman (1959) as well as Fleming and others in stressing the impor- 
tance of decorum. Those who question Reason’s privileged status do so 
on the assumption that she has limitations, human or philosophical, 
that cast doubt on her dicta about love, language, or the Lover. Rowe 
(1984) reviews this controversy and himself supports the view of 
Reason’s limitation. This skepticism about Reason’s status also evinces 
itself in other proposals about where the poets’ (or JdM’s) voice maybe 
heard : in those ofNature and Genius (Badel 1980) ; of Reason, Nature, 
and Genius (Nykrog 1986); or of the Jealous Husband, the Old 
Woman, and False Seeming (Lanly 1977). 


The controversy over authorial voice appears in the debate (or 
“quarrel”) of the early fifteenth century. Up to then, Fleming finds, RR 
“was warmly approved in morally conservative circles throughout the 
14th century” ( 1 9 65 : 435) . Badel’s (1980) book- length study of the early 
reception gives analyses of the fourteenth-century material and of the 
fifteenth-century debate. As for the debate, Hicks has been the most 
active in the field; before he published his edition (1977), he reviewed 
(1976) Potansky’s 1972 study where, he feels, the exploration of 
previous received opinions on the quarrel tends to obscure rather than 
clarify the nature of the debate. Two years earlier (1974:155) he 
developed the thesis that JdM creates an “adversary atmosphere” with 
GdL, a debate that parallels the fifteenth-century quarrel. With Ornato 
(1977) he explores in detail the position of Jean de Montreuil in the 
quarrel, and the two authors also supply a chronology of the documents 
(cf. Hicks 1977 :li— liv). Like Hicks, Baird and Kane (1974) feel that 
Christine de Pisan had the better of the debate, particularly in her 
refutation of Pierre Col (Baird 1981). Badel has a long chapter on the 
quarrel (1980:411-89) in which he argues that Christine and Gerson 
have a “vue globale” o fRR, one that is superior to Col’s defense of JdM 
on the basis of Jean’s “entendement” and of the principle of decorum. 

As for the defenders of RR, Fleming (1971) argues that Hoccleve’s 
Letter of Cupid — a 1402 adaptation and reorganization of Christine’s 
1399 Epistre au Dieu d Amours — “is a scholarly Chaucerian’s response 
to the so-called ‘Quarrel’ over the Roman de la Rose ” (21); that its 
modifications show awareness of the “techniques of dramatic allegory,” 


Preface to the 19% Edition 

i.e., decorum (36) ; and that it deserves a place among “the documents 
in the debate of the Roman de la Rose ” (39). Took (1979), in his 
interpretation of the Fiore , finds that for Pierre Col, as for Laurent de 
Premierfait and the author of the gloss on the Echecs amoureux, “the 
Roman represents not a piece of abrasive cynicism, implicitly heretical, 
but, on the contrary, the expression (albeit allegorical, and above all 
ironical) of fundamental and wholly orthodox religious truths” (506). 
Pelen (1987) sees the basis of the controversy in “Jean’s structural, 
thematic and verbal irony in his use of sources” (23); he finds that 
“Jean’s irony of word and deed, letter and figure may be conditioned on 
that of Plato and Horace in their criticisms of fable, and directed 
toward ultimate truths of a religious kind that transfigure the letter of 
their expression” (29); and he suggests that “neither [Pierre Col] nor 
Gerson has come up with an adequate description of Jean’s Christian 
eloquence,” and that they “depend too much on the letter of the text to 
advance their arguments, without sufficient attention to a literary 
context” (28-29). (For m y own briefly stated view, see Dahlberg 


^^^HIS supplement contains titles that do not appear in the 
original bibliography and that are referred to in the prefaces to the 
1983 and 1995 editions; the entry under “David, Alfred” documents 
a corrected reference in the note to lines 10830-31. For a full anno- 
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Arden, Heather 1987. The Romance of the Rose. Boston: Twayne. 

1993. The Roman de la Rose: An Annotated Bibliography. New 

York: Garland. 

Badel, Pierre- Yves 1980. Le Roman de la Rose au XIV e siecle: Etude de la 
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Baird, Joseph L. 1981. “Pierre Col and the Querelle de la Rose.” Philological 
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Baird, Joseph L., and John R. Kane 1974. “La Querelle de la Rose : In 
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, trans. 1978. La Querelle de la Rose: Letters and Documents. Chapel 

Hill: University of North Carolina Department of Romance Languages. 
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Baumgartner, Emmanuele 1992. “The Play of Temporalities; or, The Re- 
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Benton, John F. 1968. “Clio and Venus: An Historical View of Medieval 
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Bodenham, C.H.L. 1985. “The Nature of the Dream in Late Mediaeval 
French Literature.” Medium ALvum 54:74-86. 

Bouche, Therese 1977. “Ovide et Jean de Meun.” Le Moyen Age 83.71-87. 
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Brownlee, Kevin, and Sylvia Huot, ed. 1992. Rethinking the Romance of the 

xxviii bibliographical Supplement 

Rose/ Text , Image , Reception. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania 

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1988. “Chaucer and the Romance of the Rose? English Studies 


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1980. “The Myth of Poetry in Twelfth- and Thirteenth-Century 

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1989. “Understanding Guillaume de Lorris: The Truth of the 

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xxxiv bibliographical Supplement 

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359 ' 73 - 

Ward 1911. See p. 438. 

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French Studies 51:185-204. 


< 3 ° 

Romance of the Rose was, for nearly three hundred 
years after its composition in the thirteenth century, one of the most 
widely read works of the French language. Since French was the 
official language of the English court for many years, it was nearly 
as important there as in France. The decline of its popularity after 
the sixteenth century can be attributed to a major shift in taste, one 
in which allegory came to be regarded as a somewhat simplistic, 
arbitrary vehicle for pious works. Recently, a renewed interest in 
medieval allegory, beginning perhaps with C. S. Lewis’s Allegory 
of Love in 1936, has prompted a revaluation of the poem which 
sees it as a serious work of art that offers rich rewards to the at- 
tention of modern readers. 


The Romance exists in two portions of unequal length, com- 
posed by the two authors at more than a forty-year interval. Our 
evidence for their authorship, even for much of their lives, comes 
largely from the poem itself. The first 4058 lines are by Guillaume 
de Lorris, who, according to his name, was born in Lorris, a village 
east of Orleans j the longer portion (4059-21780) is by Jean de 
Meun. In a long speech (10495-678), Jean has the God of Love 
tell us that Guillaume began the Romance but died before he had 
finished it. Then, more than forty years later, says the God of 
Love, Jean Chopinel, born in Meung-sur-Loire (a village south- 
west of Orleans), will continue the story. 

The poem refers further (6631-740) to a contemporary struggle 
between Charles of Anjou and his opponents, Manfred and Con- 
radin, for the Kingdom of Sicily j and it assumes in line 6643 
(Charles “is now king of Sicily”) that Charles is still alive. Jean’s 
continuation must therefore have been written between 1268, the 
year of the struggle, and 1285, the year of Charles’s death. The 
most recent editor of the poem, Felix Lecoy, has also pointed out 
that lines 12130-38, at least, must have been drafted before 1274; 
for the Friars of the Sack, referred to at 12137, were suppressed 
by the Council of Lyon in that year and were probably absorbed 



by the Augustinians. 1 An approximate date of 1275 will serve for 
this portion and 1230-35 for Guillaume’s portion, written more 
than forty years before. 

Both authors came from the neighborhood of Orleans, a the cen- 
ter of humanistic studies” during the first half of the thirteenth 
century. 2 We know no more of Guillaume than the poem tells us, 
but Jean apparently migrated to Paris, the dominant intellectual 
center during his lifetime, when “literary studies had declined” in 
Orleans. 3 He was undoubtedly connected in one way or another 
with the University of Paris ; we are reasonably certain that he 
lived from 1292 until his death in 1305 in a house on the Rue 
Saint- Jacques, about a kilometer from the Seine and a few hundred 
yards from the house where in 1253 Robert de Sorbon had estab- 
lished a college for poor theology students of the University of 
Paris, the house that has metamorphosed into the Sorbonne, the 
present-day Faculties of Letters and Sciences of the University. 4 

Jean produced other works besides the continuation of the 
Romance . Manuscript tradition attributes to him a Testament and 
Codicile , both presumably late works written after his translation 
of Boethius. In the Preface to this work, Li Livres de Confort de 
Philosophies he lists the following translations: Vegetius’s book on 
Chivalry , the book of The Marvels of Ireland (by Giraud de 
Barri), the Letters of Abelard and Eloise , and the book On Spirit- 
ual Friendship by Aelred of Rievaulx. 5 Of these, three survive, 
the Boethius, the Vegetius, and the Letters . Boethius is an im- 
portant influence on the Romances and Aelred’s conception of 
friendship and natural love parallels that offered by Jean through 
the character Reason (4686 ff., 5763 ff.). 


The existence of two authors separated in time gave rise quite 
naturally to the question of whether or not the two parts form a 
unified whole. The question had not disturbed earlier critics, but 

1 Lecoy 1968. The Sack Friars did not, however, disappear as quickly as 
Lecoy suggests, since the order continued, without novices, and the Paris 
house of the order existed until at least 1289. See Emery i960. 

2 Paetow 1914, p. 17. 3 Ibid., p. 1 8. 

4 Lecoy 1965, p. viii. 5 Jean de Meun 1952, p. 168. 

Introduction 3 

in the nineteenth century the obvious disparity in the length of the 
two parts, the differences in scale and style of treatment, and per- 
haps the unconscious assumption of the uniqueness of the individual 
literary artist led to the now conventional judgment that Guillaume 
and Jean were opposed in intent and treatment. 6 This attitude sees 
the earlier part, by Guillaume, as a joyous celebration of “courtly 
love,” fresh and lyrical, and the longer second portion, by Jean 
de Meun, as an “anti-Guillaume,” a brilliant, but encyclopedic and 
digressive, denunciation of the ideals of courtly love and a cele- 
bration of a naturalistic doctrine of a sort of philosophical liber- 
tinism. Gerard Pare’s Les Idees et les lettres au XIII 6 siecle , a 
detailed analysis of the Romance in the light of scholastic termi- 
nology, is perhaps the leading recent exposition of this viewpoint. 
For English readers, C. S. Lewis’s Allegory of Love was a most 
influential study of “courtly love” and its allegorical vehicles in 
poetry from Chretien de Troyes to Spenser; and his treatment of 
the Romance has given wide currency to the notion of a funda- 
mental opposition in the two parts of the poem. 7 

A major challenge to this position came from Alan Gunn, in a 
Princeton dissertation later expanded and published as T he Mirror 
of Love . Gunn argued that the poem was unified as a treatise on 
love, that Jean de Meun understood Guillaume’s purpose, and 
that he fulfilled it in a greatly amplified continuation, an extended 
fsychomachia or “grand debate” in which the various personifica- 
tions reflect the poet’s conflicting attitudes on the subject of love. 8 
For Gunn, this “love” is essentially the sexual union symbolized by 
the rose; and he relates the poem’s development to a “philosophy 
of plenitude” which involves the continued regeneration of species, 
including man. Although Gunn sees unity, he does not, as we shall 
see, distinguish between the opinions of the characters and those of 
the poets. 

A more radical challenge was that of D. W. Robertson, Jr., 
who in 1951 characterized the Romance as “a humorous and witty 
retelling of the story of the Fall.” 9 Through analysis of the tradi- 

6 See, for example, Paulin Paris 1856; Gaston Paris 1914; Faral 1926; 
Thuasne 1929; Lewis 1936; Cohn 1961; Hatzfeld 1962. 

7 For further detail, see Dahlberg 1961. 

8 Gunn 1952, pp. 21-22 and fassim. 

9 Robertson 1951, p. 43. Cf. Robertson 1962, pp. 91-104, 196-207, and 



tional associations of the garden imagery of the poem, he estab- 
lished a framework for understanding the subject of love in terms 
of Christian doctrine. In 1961 I followed Robertson in suggesting 
that, different as the two authors are in style, they had a common 
understanding of their material and its allegorical trend, and that 
a coherently developed structural pattern stems from this common 
understanding, a pattern based upon the traditional analysis of the 
Fall: suggestion to sense, delight of the heart, and consent of 
reason. 10 Evidence of a basic allegorical intent lies in the opening 
of the poem, where Guillaume cites Macrobius as one a who did 
not take dreams as trifles” ; for an examination of Macrobius’s doc- 
trine on dream-allegory leads to the conclusion that Guillaume’s 
citation indicates that he is using a fabulous narrative ( narratio 
fabulosa ) to conceal, and reveal, an art or developed doctrine of 
love. In such an art, the clear sexual symbolism of the rose has its 
place as one of the kinds of love. But to interpret the poem simply 
as an erotic dream would violate the Macrobian and medieval con- 
cept of dream-allegory. Macrobius puts erotic dreams into the 
category of nightmares, which are “not worth interpreting,” and 
Jean de Meun develops this idea of Macrobius in a passage in the 
sermon of Nature (18343-424). The citation of Macrobius’s doc- 
trine by the two authors indicates a scheme in which the sexual 
symbolism gains its significance from its relationship to other kinds 
of love. 

Recent work has tended to reinforce the idea that the poem is 
unified. In her last book, Rosemond Tuve presented a detailed 
and convincing analysis of Jean de Meun’s allegorical technique 
and in doing so came independently to conclusions that parallel 
those of Robertson. 11 John Fleming, in an important recent book, 
has studied the poem anew in the light of the manuscript illumi- 
nations and its early literary reputation and has supported the 
notion that the poem shows a basic unity. 12 Both of these books 
emphasize the element of irony in the poem, and this emphasis, 
important in itself, may point at the same time to a major source 
of difference among those who have written about the poem, the 
varying attitudes taken toward its irony. 

10 Dahlberg 1961. 

11 Tuve 1966, pp. 232-80, particularly pp. 262-63, n. 

12 Fleming 1969. 




The recognition of irony can never depend solely upon the close 
examination of the text; it must arise from the acceptance of a set 
of values or assumptions that are necessarily implicit. Swift’s 
Modest Proposal exists as irony only because of certain implicit 
moral assumptions about infanticide and cannibalism. While such 
acceptance is still relatively easy in the case of A Modest Proposal, 
it is by no means so in that of the Romance , where the proposition 
that a young lover in pursuit of pudendum is necessarily not only 
funny but irrational, and therefore sinful, is a very difficult one 
for an age whose ideas on what is funny, rational, and sinful differ 
markedly from those of the thirteenth century. Yet the Romance 
goes much farther than does A Modest Proposal in elaborating the 
assumptions that are necessary to its understanding. Much of this 
elaboration occurs in Reason’s discourse, and the failure to take 
seriously the implications of what she says has allowed most critics 
of the last century to take overseriously the discourses of other 
characters — Friend, the Old Woman, Genius, for example — and 
to conclude that such characters express the poets’ opinions. This 
somewhat uncritical assumption lies at the root, it seems to me, of 
the major difficulties in understanding the poem. Pare’s discussion 
of the poem’s “philosophic de la vie religieuse” tends to equate the 
characters with the poet, Jean, and to see irony, strangely enough, 
only in his direct statements that his remarks do not apply to the 
truly religious ( 15195-302, 1 1017-22). 13 Gunn regards the speeches 
of the various characters as externalizations of the Lover’s — and 
presumably the poet’s — inner turmoil, as contributions to a “grand 
debate” that presents Jean’s composite view of love as a principle 
of plenitude. Thus he takes the Old Woman’s opposition to the 
religious life, on the ground that it destroys natural liberty, as an 
expression of the poet’s view ( 13967-78). 14 

Robertson, Tuve, and Fleming provide the major exceptions to 
this tendency. 15 They do not assume such general identity between 

13 Pare 1947, pp. 187-90. Cf. his Chapter vn (298-346), which has the 
same basic assumption that Jean expresses his own ideas directly through his 

14 Gunn 1952, pp. 363-65, 374-95, 468, and elsewhere. 

15 Cf. Tuve, p. 249 n.; Fleming, pp. 50-53, 69, no; Robertson, as cited 
above; Friedman 1959; Dahlberg 1969, pp. 568, 583-84. 

6 Introduction 

the poet and his character 3 Reason seems to be the only unexcep- 
tionable voice, but even she exists primarily as an allegorical char- 
acter, however much the poets may favor her. In other words, 
we may learn more about the poem by taking it in its own terms 
than by trying to see it in the light of unprovable assumptions 
about the authors’ subjective identification with their characters. 
By following such a procedure, these three critics have found that 
irony is a basic literary technique in the poem, a device that fulfills 
the allegorical intent that Guillaume establishes at the very be- 
ginning with his citation of Macrobius. It may be worthwhile to 
call attention in further detail to the pervasiveness of this technique 
in both parts of the poem. 16 

At the point where the God of Love is about to give his com- 
mandments, there is a passage (2057-76) which shows how Guil- 
laume establishes an ironic framework, in an apparently straight- 
forward address to the reader-listener, through a series of shifts 
in point of view between the poet and the Lover, the character 
that the poet has created. The passage opens with the point of view 
of the Lover (“The God of Love then charged me”), but imme- 
diately establishes that of the poet (“exactly as you have heard”), 
shifts back to the Lover’s (“word for word, with his command- 
ments”) and again to the poet’s (“This romance portrays them 
well”), where it remains to the end of the passage. The effect is to 
establish a distinction between the two points of view that en- 
courages the reader to examine critically whatever the Lover says 
from another perspective, that of the poet. Thus the poet’s exhorta- 
tion to “those who wish to love” slyly echoes the Lover’s point of 
view in a mock-appeal to those who want to love in the way that 
the Lover does; but it suggests that there are other ways of loving 
when it speaks of the dream’s true significance, which is to be 
revealed as the Romance progresses. Guillaume echoes his opening 
lines when he says “the truth, which is hidden, will be quite open 
to you when you hear me explain this dream, for it doesn’t con- 
tain a lying word.” 

The statement, however, is both direct and ironic. It is ironic 
in that the entire romance is a literary lie, an example of Macro- 
bius’s narratio fabulosa. It is true in that a narratio jabulosa may 

16 For fuller elaboration of irony in the poem as a whole, see Fleming, 

Introduction 7 

conceal truth; if so, the dream type is the somnium. But this par- 
ticular dream, on its first level of allegorical significance, is an 
erotic dream, the kind that Macrobius puts in the category of 
insomnium , or nightmare, and labels as “not worth interpreting.” 17 
In the sense of erotic dream, then, the Romance is deceiving. Thus 
Guillaume’s statement becomes doubly ironic as well as direct in 
a basic sense. 

For a parallel passage in which Jean de Meun speaks on this 
primary, apparently direct level, we may turn to lines 1 5133-302. 
Earlier, at 15103, it is clearly the Lover’s voice that we hear: “The 
porters would have killed me without fail if the men of the host 
had not come.” Now, as prologue to his mock-heroic battle between 
the forces of the God of Love and those of the castle of Jealousy, 
Jean switches abruptly to the voice of the poet: “From now on we 
will come to the battle. . . . Listen now, loyal lovers. . . .” Ap- 
parently unlike Guillaume, he does not shift point of view quickly 
back and forth so as to establish the binocular perspective which 
reveals in depth the layers of direct and ironic utterance; but in 
fact, Jean uses the same technique in a different form by trans- 
ferring the Lover’s voice to the poet and by setting up the contrast 
in such a way that the poet, now with two voices instead of one, 
can say things both directly and ironically. 18 

Thus the command “Listen now, loyal lovers, so that the God of 
Love may help you” shows the voice of the poet and the point of 
view of the Lover; but the iconographical detail which follows, 
that of the dogs pursuing the rabbit, forces us back to another point 
of view, a traditional one which sees the detail as symbolic of the 
sexual hunt of Venus and contrasts it with Adonis’s sterner hunt of 
the boar, the more difficult pursuit of charity, a different kind of 
love. 19 The ironic contrast between the two points of view con- 
tinues throughout the passage and reaches a hilarious climax in 
Jean’s protest that he does not write against good women or the 
good religious and that he submits his work to the judgment of 
Holy Church (15195-302). This is the passage that Pare thinks 
ironic and that Pierre Col considered the only one in which Jean 

17 Dahlberg 1961, pp. 575-76, citing Macrobius 1952, 1. ii-iii (for the 
Latin text, see Macrobius 1962). 

18 Jean uses the technique elsewhere; cf., e.g., 15751-64. 

19 Fleming 1969, pp. 186-87, citing Arnulfe d’Orleans in Ghisalberti 1932, 
p. 223. See also 15138-42 n., 15675-750 n. 

8 Introduction 

spoke directly in his own person. My own reading agrees funda- 
mentally with that of Col, but even in this most nearly direct of 
passages, Jean’s wit sparkles with continued ironies. The important 
task is to separate the strains of direct and ironic utterance and to 
see how they complement each other. 

The poet can state his intention directly: 

. . . my writing ... is all for our instruction. ... We have 
set these things down in writing so that we can gain knowl- 
edge. ... It is good to know everything. ... For, as the text 
witnesses, the whole intent of the poets is profit and delight. 
... I take my bow and bend it ... to recognize . . . the un- 
lawful people. . . . And if I make any utterance that Holy 
Church may consider foolish, I am ready at her wish to 
change it if I am capable of making the change. 

Yet even here there is an echo of the Lover’s voice in the idea 
that the “instruction” is in erotic love; but the echo stands in 
ironic contrast to the Horatian context of profit and delight, and 
such “instruction” could only appear trivial to Holy Church. 
Moreover, these passages mingle with others that reinforce them 
through further irony: 

I pray all you worthy women [are there many?] . . . please 
do not blame me. ... I certainly never said anything . . . 
against any woman alive [but rather against abstractions, sins 
rather than sinners]. . . . Besides, honorable ladies, . . . don’t 
consider me a liar, but [understand the nature of a literary 
fiction, a “fable,” and] apply to the authors who . . . have 
written the things that I have said and will say. I shall never 
lie in anything [except of course in the persons of my char- 
acters and in the fact that this entire poem is an elaborate 
literary lie, a fabulous narrative]. ... It was never my in- 
tention to speak against any living man who follows holy 
religion [False Seeming is not living, but a personification 
of abstract evil, again, sins not sinners]. 

In short, the poet, through his two voices and through the ironic 
echoes set up by his technique, can say the same things both directly 
and ironically. 

Such complexity exists on the simplest level, that of the first- 

Introduction 9 

person narrator, Dreamer or Lover, through whose voice alone 
we hear those of the other characters. To take even this voice as 
consistently that of the poet is dangerously misleading ; to take 
those of the other characters as such is to compound the danger of 
abandoning the literary controls that the two poets have estab- 
lished. Lionel Friedman, in his 1959 article, “ ‘Jean de Meung,’ 
Antifeminism, and ‘Bourgeois Realism/ ” revealed this danger 
through an analysis of lines 9155-56: “ ‘ “All you women are, will 
be, and have been whores, in fact or in desire.” ’ ” The passage 
comes from the speech of the Jealous Husband, which forms 
part of the discourse of Friend ; we are three narrative levels away 
from the poet, let alone Jean de Meun, and to ascribe this senti- 
ment to him is to invite contradiction with other portions of the 
poem — the passage cited above, for example — and to ignore the 
primary critical task. Even if it were Jean’s opinion, how that 
opinion operates in this context must be our question ; and Flem- 
ing has shown that the words form part of the tirade of a char- 
acter whom Friend introduces to “illustrate the rightness of his 
views on the marital hierarchy,” but who instead “exemplifies evils 
which arise from its breakdown or inversion as its chains snap with 
the forces of passion and avarice.” 20 

A parallel case of a speech at four removes from Jean de Meun 
is that of the wife who worms her husband’s secrets from him 
(16402-536). It occurs in Genius’s long discourse on, and offers 
a specific example of, the vices of women. That speech occurs just 
as Nature is about to confess to her “priest,” Genius, and it post- 
pones her confession by some 400 lines. Jean de Meun would cer- 
tainly have been either inept or feeble-minded if he wrote this 
section with no intent of irony. Genius starts by calling Nature 
“My lady, queen of the world” ; says that he believes her misdeed 
a great one ; anticipates the confession by assuming that the misdeed 
is one committed against her and warns her against the “feminine” 
vice of wrath; goes on from there to an increasingly vehement 
warning against the vices of women (the wife’s speech is exem- 
plary of such vices) ; and wanders finally into a warning, not to 
his interlocutor, Nature, but to “Fair lords,” to protect themselves 
from women (sleep with them but don’t talk to them). At 16701 
Jean de Meun disingenuously “remembered” that Genius was 

20 Fleming 1969, pp. 155-57. 

i o Introduction 

speaking to Nature and has him say that he had not said these 
things on her account. But of course he had. Certainly this passage 
establishes the proper comic tone for the parody of religion that 
Fleming has characterized neatly as “a spectacle of Nature making 
a ‘confession’ which is not a confession of a ‘sin’ which is not a sin 
to a ‘confessor’ who is not a confessor .” 21 It also serves at the outset 
to establish the nature of the parody by assuring the reader of 
Genius’s false credentials. His discourse on women parallels that 
of Friend, and both make similar use of the Golden Age motif . 22 

With no historical basis for accusing Jean de Meun of holding 
the varied opinions of all his characters and with a clear literary 
basis for discarding such an assumption, it becomes possible to see 
the play of ironies directed toward the consistent development of a 
theme. However hilarious they become, they are directed, more 
simply in Guillaume’s case, more elaborately in Jean’s, toward the 
revelation of the Lover’s headstrong folly in his pursuit of the 


That characters in a literary work should voice opinions appro- 
priate to them rather than to their creator is an elementary matter 
of literary decorum, the neglect of which may lead to mistaken 
history as well as questionable criticism. There is another aspect of 
decorum — stylistic decorum — which is less well recognized in, but 
central to, our understanding and evaluation of the Romance ; in 
this case the principle involved has become so much a part of our 
literary folklore that it is a neglected cliche: the notion that a 
sublime subject may gain strength from a simple style. We forget 
that the principle may lead to a corollary: a seemingly inappropriate 
surface may call attention to and strengthen a theme of great im- 

Erich Auerbach has called our attention to the difference between 
this and the classical notion of stylistic decorum and has identified 
Augustine of Hippo, convert from classical rhetoric to Christianity, 
as the theoretician and practitioner of this new kind of rhetoric . 23 
In the Christian Doctrine , Augustine recognized the three tradi- 
tional Ciceronian levels of style but rejected the principle of 

21 Ibid., p. 207. 

23 Auerbach 1965, pp. 27-66. 

22 See 8355-9664 n., 20033 n. 

Introduction 1 1 

decorum which assigned each to a corresponding category of sub- 
ject matter. The reason for this important change in rhetorical 
theory was that the “Christian orator’s subject is always Christian 
revelation, and this can never be base or in-between.” 24 As a result, 
the “humblest” things could be treated in a sublime style and, con- 
versely, the most “elevated” in a simple style. Auerbach points out 
that such a development arises from the Christian conception of 
the fusion of the humble and sublime in Christ’s Incarnation and 
Passion, a fusion which confounds traditional categories and 
establishes a mode of discourse that affected Christian literature 
throughout the Middle Ages. 25 The Divine Comedy , of course, is 
Auerbach’s candidate for “the greatest document of this Christian 

Yet Dante’s poem may be less apt than the Romance of the Rose 
as an illustration of the new principle of decorum to which Auer- 
bach has called our attention, for in the classical categories, “the 
comic and frivolously erotic, the satirical, realistic, and obscene” 
were all “subjects . . . assigned to the lowest class.” 26 The appear- 
ance of such subjects in the Romance has misled modern critics 
into applying the Ciceronian rather than the Augustinian principle 
of decorum and, as a result, into regarding the Romance and the 
Comedy as antithetical. Yet, as John Fleming points out, Laurent 
de Premierfait (ca. 1400) thought that the Romance was the 
actual model for the Comedy , 27 Although Laurent was probably 
wrong historically, his reasons for thinking so are important: Jean 
painted a mappemonde of all things in heaven and earth; in his 
book there is a full description of the heaven of the good and the 
hell of the wicked. Clearly Laurent implies that the two poems are 
alike in meaning, not in form. 28 He is judging the similarity on 
the basis of the Augustinian rather than the Ciceronian principle of 
decorum. In Ciceronian terms, the Romance is at best a great satire, 
but to consider it only as that is to neglect the Augustinian possi- 
bility of conveying an elevated theme in such a manner. The 
corollary is also true: the humor cannot exist without the serious 
background that gives it point. 

24 Ibid., p. 35. See Augustine, On Christian Doctrine , iv. xvii-xix (34-38), 
trans. Robertson 1958, pp. 142-46. 

25 Auerbach 1957, pp. 131-32; 1965, pp. 65-66. 

26 Auerbach 1965, p. 37. 27 Fleming 1969, pp. 17-19. 

28 Ibid., p. 20. 

1 2 Introduction 

It is probably such a principle that can be of greatest help in 
understanding both the nature of the poem’s unity and the basis of 
its ironic technique. It would also account most readily for the 
stylistic distinction between the two parts, a distinction that Flem- 
ing has characterized as a shift from predominantly iconographical 
abstraction in Guillaume’s poem toward an increasing degree of 
verisimilar exemplification in Jean’s portion. 29 Note that Jean’s 
exemfla are no less iconographic than Guillaume’s abstractions ; the 
style changes but the theme remains unified. It is to that theme, 
and its linear development, that we must now turn. 


It is a commonplace, often neglected, that love is a central doc- 
trine of Christianity and, as a theme, occupies a dominant place in 
much medieval poetry. Guillaume and Jean are quite explicit about 
the centrality of this theme, and interpretation diverges principally 
over the question of the variety of love which controls the poem’s 
development. I have argued elsewhere that traditional Christian 
analyses of love offer the best background for our understanding 
of the theme and its structural development. 30 They offer a range 
of definition that at the same time gives a comprehensive back- 
ground for Reason’s treatment of the subject, accounts most satis- 
factorily for the linear articulation of the poem’s parts, provides a 
spacious framework for possibilities of ironic technique within the 
allegory, and justifies the authors’ Macrobian concept of dream- 
allegory as a literary form. 

These traditional analyses had encouraged an important am- 
biguity in the use of the word amor. At least from the time of 
Augustine, this term — and often the term dilectio — came to be used 
for both charity and cupidity. Alanus de Insulis reflects this tradi- 
tion when, in his Distinctiones dictionum theolo gicalium^ he defines 
amor , “in the strict sense,” as cupidity, but also as charity, as the 
Holy Spirit, as Christ, and, most importantly, as “natural affec- 
tion.” 31 This natural affection is the “other love, a natural one,” 
that Reason describes to the Lover (5763 ff.). Although, as she 
suggests, the Lover is not interested in this love, it is his starting 

29 Ibid., pp. 29-32. 30 Dahlberg 1961, 1969. 

31 PL 210, col. 699. Cf. Regulae Theologicae , cols. 673-74; Summa de 
arte fraedicatoria , cols. 152-53. 



point, even for the cupidinous course that he pursues 3 it can lead 
upward to charity or downward to cupidity. This position is Augus- 
tinian and Boethian, but the idea that the love of God is natural 
and that it begins in just such a natural love is of great antiquity 
and was given a special impetus in the twelfth century by Saint 
Bernard and his Cistercian followers. Thus, in Bernard’s De dili- 
gendo Deo, we find that love is one of the four passions given us 
by nature, that it is, in its first degree, a carnal love, by which man 
loves himself for himself. 32 

There is reason to think that this basic concept is important to 
Jean and to the poem. Reason says that Nature has given this 
love to man and beast and that it has no merit in itself and de- 
serves neither praise nor blame (5764, 5770-80). Jean also takes 
over the figures of Nature and Genius from Alanus, a fact that 
gives “nature” a prominent place in relation to love. And the 
development of the poem places these figures at the service of the 
Lover’s self-seeking interpretation of the function of natural love. 
If it may lead in two directions, there is no mistaking the direction 
that the Lover wants it to take. Jean’s use of Alanus’s oxymoronic 
description of love (4293 ff.) shows his awareness of the opposites 
generated by this natural force in man. In a mounting series of 
oppositions Reason says that love is a sin touched by pardon but a 
pardon stained by sin (4315-16). Although this is clearly a descrip- 
tion of the torments of cupidinous love, it reflects the other kinds 
that Alanus had spoken of in his Distinctiones. 

Reason’s exposition is thus firmly rooted in the tradition repre- 
sented in Alanus’s types of love. After the opening description 
from Alanus’s Comflaint of Nature , Reason gives Andreas Capel- 
lanus’s definition from the De amore , a definition of cupidinous 
love (4377-88), and contrasts this love with the legitimate wish to 
continue one’s divine self through propagation by taking the delight 
that Nature has implanted in order to ensure the continuation of 
the species. 83 She tells the Lover that the love which holds him is 
not this legitimate natural love but one which holds out to him 
the prospect of carnal delight (4600-28, 5789-94). When the 
Lover asks for elaboration, Reason explains other varieties of love. 

82 PL 182, cols. 987-88. Cf. Aelred of Rievaulx, De s-pirituali amicitia , PL 
195, col. 663; Pierre de Blois 1932, pp. 124.-26. 

33 For the Augustinian parallel, see 4403-21 n. 

1 4 Introduction 

First she gives the definition of charity according to the concept 
of amitie , and she indicates that she wishes the Lover to follow this 
love and avoid the other that she has described at length (4685- 
768). She then describes (4769 ff.) another kind of cupidity, the 
love which arises from the desire for gain, the love which comes 
from Fortune (4783) and causes men to love the rich (4803-8). 
Those who follow it subject themselves to Fortune, and he who 
does so is a wretched, naive fool, for, as Boethius says, earth is 
not our country (4837-5040). A long passage on this love leads 
Reason to advise the Lover to renounce loving far amour (5369). 
Next, in response to the Lover’s objection that the good love to 
which she counsels him has been impossible on earth since the 
giants put the gods to flight (5375-433), Reason counsels him to 
practice this love by loving generally rather than particularly, by 
loving what is common to all and by acting in accord with the 
Golden Rule (5434-58). There follows a discussion on Justice; it 
derives its force from charity, but judges have become corrupt 

After a short passage, Reason closes her explanation of the kinds 
of love with the definition of natural love, common to man and 
beast, that we have examined as the starting point for other kinds 
of love. The passage serves as a bridge between the explanation 
of the different kinds of love (4293-5794) and an extended de- 
velopment of the unreasonableness of the love of Fortune (5795- 
6900). After she tells the Lover that she knows that he is not 
interested in the natural love (5789-94), Reason advises him to 
take her as his sweetheart and contrasts the love of reason with 
that of fortune and of the God of Love (5842-46, 6884-90); to 
establish the contrast, she develops the theme of Fortune with 
many examples and an extensive borrowing (5921-6172) of the 
description of Fortune’s dwelling in Alanus de Insulis’s Anti- 
claudianus . 

If we grant that Reason’s discussion of love presents its kinds in 
terms of a series of contrasting definitions, with a transitional defini- 
tion of the natural love from which the others begin, and a long 
recapitulation in terms of the love of Fortune, we must still see 
clearly that among these loves, that of the Lover is a cupidinous 
love, not the “simple physiological function” that in itself is 
neutral. There is ample evidence that it is cupidinous. Reason identi- 

Introduction 1 5 

fies his love as foolish (e.g., 2997-3072, 4147-50, 4242, 10249-60), 
and she is seen throughout the poem as opposed to the love which 
the Lover follows. At the close, when the Lover possesses his rose, 
he says that he did not remember Reason, who had given him a 
lot of trouble for nothing (21760-61). Taken literally, the Lover’s 
desire for the rose is the classic form of cupidity, a love of an 
earthly object for its own sake rather than for the sake of God. 
The linear progress of that desire through the poem follows the 
pattern of cupidinous love, the love inspired by Cupid, the poem’s 
God of Love. 

It was Robertson who first identified that pattern with the Fall, 34 
that prototypical sin which was thought to fall into three parts, 
corresponding to the three protagonists: suggestion to sense 
(Satan), delight of the heart (Eve), and consent of the reason 
(Adam). Such an analysis is commonplace in medieval thought ; 35 
and in the Romance , the process is suggested by Jean’s use, in the 
speech of Reason, of Andreas’s definition of love (4377-84) : Love 
is a malady of thought (reason), coming from an ardor (delight) 
born of disturbed vision (sense). 30 In this process, the important 
feature is that there is a reversal of the right ordering of the 
faculties : where Reason, the image of God, should govern the body 
and the senses, it is governed by them. The first of these three 
steps, suggestion or involvement of the senses, is strongly indi- 
cated by the dreamer’s experience up to the time when the God of 
Love pursues him. The imagery of Chapter 1 emphasizes the role 
of sense impressions. Sight images predominate and underline the 
idea that love begins with sight, “disordinate glances.” The two 
crystal stones in the fountain of Narcissus suggest the eyes, and 
Sweet Looks is the name of the allegorical character who carries 
the two bows and ten arrows for the God of Love (904-84). Five 
of the arrows encourage love and five others discourage it. The 
series of the five encouraging arrows, while it does not correspond 
in detail to the series of the five bodily senses, begins and ends 
with names that suggest sight. Beauty, lying in the beholder’s eye, 
leads through advancing degrees of intimacy — Simplicity, Open- 
ness, Company — to the subjective sight impression of Fair Seeming. 

It is from the sight of the mirrored image of the rosebush in the 

34 Robertson 1951, p. 43. 35 Dahlberg 1961, p. 578 n. 

36 Cf. Robertson 1953, pp. 152-53. 



Narcissus-fountain that the Lover conceives the “ardor” which 
leads to his “malady of thought.” The second stage, delight of the 
heart, is objectified by the passage describing the pursuit and cap- 
ture of the Lover by the God of Love. The arrows pierce his heart, 
usually entering the eye in the traditional manner. When the Lover 
has received five arrows, the God of Love announces, “Vassal, you 
are taken!” (1884), and the Lover performs the act of homage in 
the best feudal fashion, kneeling before his captor with joined 
hands and receiving the kiss on the mouth (1955-57). With his 
catechism of love, the course of his “ardor” is well begun. But all 
is not yet lost, since his reason is not involved. After a temporary 
repulse in his quest, Reason admonishes him, but he refuses to 
follow her counsel and returns to his quest, only to be repulsed 
again and to find himself in despair. 

Such is the structure of Guillaume’s poem, a structure in which 
the progression of imagery and narrative is seen most coherently 
as a succession of stages of involvement in sin. Jean de Meun, in 
finishing the poem, has developed the third stage, the involve- 
ment of reason, at great length, and the effect of his detailed and 
leisurely elaboration is to enlarge the scope and significance of the 
fundamental issues of Guillaume’s poem. He performs this feat 
principally by the introduction of personifications who illuminate 
the process of the overthrow of reason from several standpoints 
and who serve as reflectors of the inner state of the Lover as he 
continues in his rejection of Reason. 37 

Recently, Lionel Friedman has suggested that the progress of 
the Romance corresponds to the five steps of love — sight, conver- 
sation, touching, kissing, and / actum (or coitus ) — of a very wide- 
spread tradition that appears in Alanus as well as elsewhere. Guil- 
laume, he says, “leads the lover up four of the five steps,” and 
“Jean took over at the stage of factum” The topos of the five 
steps, the grains amoris , thus “served to order the narrative se- 
quence in the Roman de la Rose within the conventions of personi- 
fication.” 38 Clearly this is a significant parallel tradition that 
reinforces that of the three-step analysis above. 39 Jean himself says 

37 Cf. Tuve 1966, pp. 239, 259. 

38 Friedman 1965, pp. 174, 175, 177. See note to 924-25, 935 ff. 

39 See Fleming 1969, pp. 99-103. For another parallel tradition, that of 
the five bodily senses and five spiritual senses, arranged in two different 


J 7 

in the Preface to his translation of Boethius that in the Romance 
he had “taught the way to seize the castle and pluck the rose.” 40 
Even in addressing his king, Jean reflects the irony of his poem, 
for an essential part of his teaching method was to establish first 
the intellectual framework which gives point and significance to 
the Lover’s factum , and the first of the personifications that he 
uses for this purpose is Reason, that faculty involved in the third 
of the three steps. 

It is Reason who uses Andreas’s three-step definition of love, who 
establishes firmly the context for the understanding of the poem 
when she speaks of the different kinds of love at the same time 
that, in doing so, she is fighting a losing battle for the Lover. The 
Lover’s rejection of Reason (6901-27) has amusing consequences 
in the passage immediately following, where he objects to her use 
of the word testicles (coilles). This hilarious passage shows one 
aspect of his prudish irrationality. He had shown the same attitude 
before (5697-724), and he later chooses his own euphemisms for 
penis and testicles, the pilgrim’s staff and sack of two hammers 
(21346 ff.), and thus fulfills the God of Love’s prohibition against 
ribaudie (2109-14). The Lover’s rejection of “the sentences, fables, 
and metaphors of the poets” (7190-92) is a literary extension of 
this literalist attitude and parallels False Seeming’s position 
( 1 1 2 1 6) 5 in fact, False Seeming objectifies the Lover’s attitude 
of pretense. 41 

Next, Friend appears to abet the Lover in his rejection of reason 
and to further the course of his love. His worldly advice, at first 
repugnant to the Lover (7795-818), establishes the pattern that he 
follows subsequently when the God of Love assembles the barons 
for their assault on the Castle of Jealousy. Friend’s counsels of 
deceit and trickery, a mockery of true friendship, become more 
and more grotesque and bear fruit in the figures of False Seeming 
and the Old Woman. These passages, often thought of as digres- 
sive displays of Jean’s encyclopedic erudition, are in fact central 

orientations, toward charity or cupidity, see Dahlberg 1969, pp. 575-76, 
citing Davy 1953, p. 97, n. I; Rahner 1933; Augustine, Sermo CLIX, iv 
(4), PL 38, col. 869; Guillaume de Saint-Thierry, De natura et dignitate 
amoris , ed. Davy 1953, p. 94; Saint Bernard of Clairvaux, Sermo X de diversis , 
2-4, PL 183, cols. 568-69. 

40 Jean de Meun 1952, p. 168. 

41 Cf. 7153-80 n. 

1 8 Introduction 

to the intrigue because the speakers represent qualities characteristic 
of cupidinous love: the deceitful exterior and flagrant self-seeking, 
among others. At the same time, they reflect in their perversity 
the value of the reason that is being overthrown. 

False Seeming, for example, presents the theme of reason’s fall 
in the ironic confession of a corrupt pretender to the prelatical 
status of the Church, that status which, in medieval thought, stood 
highest among men (allegorically), as reason stood highest within 
man (tropologically). 42 Where reason guides and instructs the in- 
dividual, members of the prelatical status were to guide and instruct 
the members of the Church. False Seeming’s perversion of the 
prelatical functions is the central theme of his confession and, at 
the same time, a reflection of the perversion of the Lover’s reason. 
His action in the Lover’s behalf — the rear-gate deception and 
murder of Foul Mouth, which opens the way to the Old Woman 
and Fair Welcoming — fulfills both Friend’s advice and False 
Seeming’s own self-portrait in his confession, a model for that of 
Chaucer’s Pardoner. 

The third in the series of grotesques that follow upon the Lover’s 
denial of Reason is the Old Woman, the literary ancestress of 
Chaucer’s Wife of Bath and Prioress as well as of Juliet’s Nurse. 
Her long speech to Fair Welcoming, urging him to receive the 
Lover, is a hilarious exposition of rapacious mercantilism in love, 
an ironic condemnation of her futile sentimentality over her own 
past. Through the Old Woman, the Lover gains access to Fair 
Welcoming, but is again repulsed by Resistance when he stretches 
his hand toward the Rose (14808 ff.). The ensuing battle of 
abstractions, a mock-heroic paradigm of the fsychomachia , estab- 
lishes a period in the Lover’s progress when a truce is taken ( 15627- 
58). After Venus’s aid is invoked, the final action takes place. The 
attack, repulse, and battle, which relate directly to the Lover’s 
quest, stand between the three grotesques — Friend, False Seem- 
ing, and the Old Woman — and the cosmic personifications Nature 
and Genius. 

Nature again reflects the overthrow of reason when she laments 
the fallen state of man. To understand her significance, we may 
recall Augustine’s distinction between two natures, a nature rightly 

42 Robertson and Huppe 1951, pp. 13, 20-21, 28-29; Pare 1947, pp. 



created in the beginning and a nature corrupted by sin, a formula- 
tion given currency for the later Middle Ages by Peter Lombard. 43 
Man’s task is the restoration of this fallen nature. As Gilson puts 
Saint Bernard’s formulation, “The love of God is first in right, 
and carnal love is first in fact. How to return from the state in 
which we stand in fact, and recover the state in which we ought 
to stand as of right? There lies the whole question.” 44 This em- 
phasis in earlier writing upon the point from which we start accounts 
for the development of the Romance in terms of the pattern of the 
Fall and for the place occupied in that development by the concept, 
and personification, of Nature. 

The portrait in Alanus’s Complaint of Nature is clearly Jean’s 
source, but Jean makes certain that we understand that his Nature 
is the fallen variety, for her job is to reproduce the species in the 
post-lapsarian manner described by Augustine, 45 and she admits 
her ignorance of any other method of reproduction (19146 ff.). 
While the Lover is interested in the gifts of Nature — his staff and 
the sack with its hammers (21346-96) — he has no interest in the 
work of Nature j in fact, his emphasis on breadth of experience 
(2 1 551), on luxury (21553), his neglect of Nature in his final 
thanks to the God of Love and Venus (21753), and his rejection 
of Reason (21760-61) convey the idea that his principal interest 
in Nature is to enlist her aid in his con-game. That, in fact, is the 
essentially antirational trend of the action. To use Nature without 
the guide of Reason is to reproduce the pattern of the Fall. 

The position that the Romance celebrates a naturalistic doctrine 
of love, as we saw above, rests on the dangerously uncritical as- 
sumption that the Lover represents Jean de Meun and that the 
personifications express his opinions. It also assumes that the 
Lover’s antics are “natural.” But part of Jean’s effect is to portray 
the Lover’s addled wits by revealing a series of illogicalities. For 
example, Genius appears as Nature’s priest, and she makes her con- 
fession to him (16272 ff.). It is true that his sermon on the Park 
of the Lamb (19931 ff.) presents a valid and important contrast 
to the Garden of Diversion, but this same sermon preaches the 

43 Augustine, De trinitate, xm. xii [16]; Peter Lombard, Sentences, in. 
xx. 1. Cf. the Summarium to Alanus de Insulis, Anticlaudianus, ed. Bossuat 
i 955 > P- 199 - 

44 Gilson 1940, p. 38. 45 See 4403-21 (and note), 15891-976. 

20 Introduction 

doctrine that the Park will be the reward of those who work con- 
scientiously with their plows, styluses, and hammers at the task of 
natural reproduction , as Pare puts it, “the contemplation of the 
Trinity is promised to those . . . who faithfully observe [Nature’s] 
laws.” 46 But we cannot, with Pare, conclude that this is Jean de 
Meun’s doctrine, and its obvious deficiencies are reinforced by other 
details. 47 Genius, we are told, represents natural inclination, or 
naturalis concupiscentia , 48 and our first encounter with the figure 
in the Romance (16272 if.) reinforces this identification in a star- 
tling way, for it turns out that the Mass that he sings is not a new 
one, 49 but a recitation of “the representative shapes of all corruptible 
things” (16281-82). He is “the god and master of places” (16286). 
His function is thus appropriate to the identification naturalis 
concupiscent ia, but it is at variance with the priestly expression of 
it in the form of a Mass and with his priestly robes. When he sets 
out to help lovers (19428 ff.), he takes off these robes, but when 
he arrives at the council of barons, he receives the inappropriate 
robes of a bishop from the inappropriate hands of the God of Love 
(19477 ff.). After his sermon, he throws down his torch and 
vanishes so that no one knows what has become of him. The action 
of the rest of the poem is dominated not by Genius but by Venus, 
who takes up his torch and spreads her fire. 

It seems clear that Jean de Meun cannot be seriously accused 
of spreading, let alone believing in, these ponderous illogicalities, 
particularly since they accord much more with the mentality of the 
Lover in the poem than with Jean’s evident sophistication. They 
serve to introduce the Lover’s perversion of the idea of natural 
love, they illustrate his lack of reason, and thus they reinforce the 
already obvious development of the theme of ludicrous and cupidi- 
nous love. 

In the description of the final assault there is a passage in which 
the image in the shrine is compared with the statue that Pygmalion 
made. This comparison occasions a retelling of the Pygmalion 
story (20817-21214), which is a clear reflection, in miniature, of 
the structure of the whole of the poem, with its three stages ; for 

46 Pare 1947, p. 325; translation mine. Cf. Tuve 1966, p. 279. 

47 Cf. Robertson 1962, pp. 200-2. 

48 Ibid., pp. 199, 107; the identification is that of Guillaume de Conches, 
in his commentary on Boethius’s Consolation of Philosophy ( De cons.), 

49 Cf. ibid., pp. 127-30. 



Pygmalion goes through essentially the same process as does the 
Lover. Like the Lover, who falls in love when he sees the rosebush 
reflected in the fountain of Narcissus, Pygmalion is the victim of a 
manifestation of self-love when he falls in love with the statue of 
his own creation. His folly develops quickly into a very clear loss 
of reason with comic, pathetic, and tragic consequences. 

More than ever in this latter part of the poem, the comedy is a 
fundamental part of the poem’s meaning, for the very blasphemy 
of the mock religiosity of the Lover’s quest, figured in terms of 
an aberration of the celestial pilgrimage, shows the depth and ex- 
tent, as well as the ridiculousness, of the full and final overthrow 
of reason, where everything is turned upside-down and black seems 
white. The futility of such a perversion is hinted at in the closing 
lines of the poem — “straightway it was day, and I awoke” — which 
suggest that the Lover’s insomnium is fleeting and insubstantial. 

But if the Lover’s love is empty, it is so only in the context of 
that charity which is the only true “cosmic force of generation,” 
the chain of love that Boethius sang and Jean echoed in French 
prose . 50 To understand the Lover’s love, we must turn to the 
theologians for illumination. We turn to Augustine, to Bernard 
and Alanus not because Guillaume and Jean cofy an explanation 
of charity from them but because their explanations clarify the 
ludicrousness of the Lover’s headstrong course. The Romance is a 
poem, not a tract. This fact should make it clear that there is no 
incongruity in turning to theological sources for an understanding 
of the vernacular love poetry of the twelfth and later centuries, 
and that to do so involves no disagreement with Gilson’s conten- 
tion that there is no filiation between “courtly love” and Bernard’s 
mysticism . 51 An allegorical poem like the Romance may appear to 
be “secular,” and therefore removed from Bernard’s development 
of charity, but it is far less meaningful as an expression of “human- 
ism” or “naturalism” than as a complex development of a tradi- 
tional theme, the folly — and attractiveness — of cupidinous love. It 
is more meaningful precisely because this development includes and 
depends upon dimensions of love — natural love, fortune, amity, 
and the charity that is the source and goal of the other forms — 

50 De cons 2, m. 8. Cf. Jean de Meun 1952, pp. 204-5. 

51 Gilson 1940, pp. 170-85. On courtly love, see Robertson 1953 and 
1962, Chapter 5; Benton 1961; Schoeck 1951. 



that give it a meaningful context. The poetic development gives 
form to the idea that cupidinous involvement grows in stages 
of increasing gravity; proceeding by means of irony, the poem 
presents these stages in terms of increasing levity until we reach 
the dream’s conclusion. The defiant joy of the Lover over the 
possession of the rose gives way to the light of day, and the dream 


It is no accident that recent studies which emphasize the im- 
portance of the poem’s ironic technique are also those that for the 
first time have revealed the importance of manuscript illustrations. 
Following on the pioneering work of Robertson, Fleming has 
provided an excellent guide to the significance of the manuscript 
illustrations of the Romance . Of more than two hundred manu- 
scripts that have survived, many are beautifully illustrated and 
exceptionally rich in iconographic materials, but modern critical 
editions have totally neglected these materials. Charles Dunn 
selected a series of fifteen miniatures from three manuscripts in the 
Morgan Library, New York, as illustrations for the Robbins trans- 
lation, but the major modern collections since Kuhn’s are those 
of Robertson, Tuve, and Fleming. The latter, a series of forty- 
two figures from twenty-seven manuscripts, is the fullest collection 
designed specifically to document a detailed reading of the text of 
the Romance . There remains unpublished a great store of valuable 
and beautiful material that deserves presentation in color and in 
unbroken groupings from individual manuscripts. 

The present translation offers, for the first time since Kuhn’s 
early study, the full schedule of illustrations from a single manu- 
script; this series of twenty-eight miniatures, covering Guillaume’s 
portion only, comes from one of the two earliest illustrated ver- 
sions, the thirteenth-century Paris MS. B. N. fr. 378. The other 
major group of illustrations, covering Jean’s portion, comes from a 
late fifteenth-century manuscript, Douce 195 in the Bodleian Li- 
brary; and the last sixteen of this group form a complete sequence 
of all the miniatures from about line 20,000 to the end of the poem. 
The last six miniatures illustrate special points in the notes; one, 
from B. N. fr. 1559, represents the other earliest illustrated manu- 

Introduction 23 

script, and the remaining five are from manuscripts dated 1329, 
1352, and ca. 1365. Thus there are representative illustrations from 
a chronological spectrum of two hundred years, and they provide 
evidence of stylistic developments during that period. 

In general, they help to document further many of Fleming’s 
conclusions. The two major groups of figures illustrate, in a manner 
but little exaggerated by the two-century difference in time, the 
stylistic distinction between Guillaume’s abstract iconography and 
Jean’s increasing use of exemplification, particularly in the human- 
istic materials. The long sequence of nine miniatures on the Pyg- 
malion story (Figs. 47-55) illustrates both Jean’s use of the material 
and the miniaturist’s sensitivity to the ironies involved in its use. 
Other individual miniatures provide further examples of the vari- 
ous ways in which the illuminations serve as a form of gloss to the 

In particular, certain ones confirm the notion, explored above, 
that the ironic technique depends upon two points of view, those of 
the Lover in the poem and of the poet or reader outside. Fig. 43, 
as Miss Tuve has shown, recognizes this form of irony by revealing 
through its calculated blasphemy that point of view of the Lover 
that is implicit in Genius’s misapplication of Trinitarian imagery 
in his description of the Fountain of Life. 52 In this case, of course, 
the text itself provides the poet-reader point of view in the tradi- 
tional religious imagery. 

The rose, the major symbol of the poem, is a recurring icono- 
graphic device that subsumes the two points of view, for its tradi- 
tional associations were already ambivalent. 53 Its appearances in 
the illustrations quite properly show its associations with carnality: 
Fig. 64, for example, shows both the literal and symbolic action 
of plucking the rose. In Fig. 57, the lady of the sanctuary wears a 
rose-chaplet, and the Lover’s “sack” bears rosette decorations. The 
chaplet of course had been the Lover’s gift in Fig. 36. And in 
Fig. 42 the rose appears in the head of the bishop’s crozier, which 
the God of Love has given to Genius. But at the same time, the 
association with the religious symbols of the crozier and the pil- 
grim’s sack reinforces the ironic point of view. 

52 Tuve 1966, p. 277. 

53 See 895-96 n.; Dahlberg 1969, pp. 577-78, 581. 



Fig. 1 develops the religious associations of the rose in a some- 
what more complex manner. I have discussed elsewhere the paral- 
lels between this type of opening miniature and contemporary 
Nativity representations . 54 The position of the rose tree behind the 
bed on which the Dreamer lies recalls the position of the cradle 
in many of the Nativities, but the tree is also reminiscent, as Kuhn 
noted long ago, of the tree of Jesse, the source, in one sense, of the 
Nativity. The form of the rose tree is appropriately parodic of the 
tree of Jesse in that its curves, instead of being erect and bisym- 
metrical, are asymmetrical and involute or downward, like those of 
the conventional arbor vitiorum rather than the arbor virtutum . 55 

Another feature of Fig. 1, however, illustrates even more clearly 
both the existence of the two points of view in the text and the 
illustrator’s recognition of them. The figure at the foot of the bed 
represents the character Resistance (Dangier), and the club on 
his shoulder is his identifying attribute. His position corresponds to 
that of Joseph in the Nativities, but the parallel with Joseph is 
apparently at variance with the situation in the poem, where Re- 
sistance appears as the Lover’s opponent in his quest for the rose, 
not his protector, as Joseph was for Mary. Thus the miniature 
makes the point that the Lover’s situation is parodically unlike the 
Nativity. But although Resistance in the text is the Lover’s op- 
ponent and appears as a coarse, hairy, violent churl ( vilain ), the 
Resistance in this miniature is a beardless, tonsured young clerk 
who bears a close resemblance to the Dreamer in the bed. The 
suspicion that he is an aspect of the Dreamer becomes a certainty 
when we read Fleming’s penetrating observation that Dangier is 
“a moral category which manifests itself in psychological re- 
straint .” 56 Fig. 1, in common with a number of early illustrations, 
makes this point by showing Resistance without a beard . 57 Such a 
recognition depends upon a point of view different from that of 
the text, for there Resistance is seen consistently from the Lover’s 

54 Dahlberg 1969, pp. 578-81, citing Kuhn 1911, pp. 12-14 (1913-14, 
pp. 20-24), who uses this style of opening miniature as the basis for his 
Group I. 

55 See Hugh of Saint Victor’s De jructibus carnis et spritus , PL 176, cols. 

56 Fleming 1969, p. 189. 

57 Cf. Kuhn 1 91 3-14, Figs. 2, 3, pp. 16, 18; Fleming 1969, Figs. 10-11. 



point of view — as resistance, in fact — and this point of view pro- 
duces a hairy, bearded character, distinct from the Dreamer, in the 
miniatures of other manuscripts. 58 Clearly the reader sees such 
a character differently from the way in which he sees the Resistance 
of Fig. 1 ; but it is also clear that the Lover’s point of view is hardly 
trustworthy, since “resistance” helps to inflame the Lover’s desire 
by denying him immediate satisfaction of the rose, and in this 
sense helps to further the cause of the forces of the God of Love. 
The illustrator of Fig. 1, in short, clarifies a double point of view 
that relates external “resistance” to internal “restraint.” 

The awareness of the double point of view persisted in the 
traditions of manuscript illumination. Two centuries after Fig. 1 
was produced, a beardless young Resistance appears as a knight 
in Fig. 38, an illustration of one of the opening phases of the 
'psychomachia in Chapter 8. Here he is subduing Openness, to 
whose aid appears Pity, who tries to retard Resistance’s club. An 
interesting feature of this miniature is the position of Openness’s 
horse, which appears to be kneeling before Resistance’s onslaught. 
Now the horse is another iconographical detail with traditionally 
ambivalent associations (see 19787 n.); if the rider controls the 
horse by means of the reins, the image may represent a right 
order, one in which reason restrains the passions, but an uncon- 
trolled horse may suggest the upset of this right order. The atti- 
tude of the horse in Fig. 38 then seems to confirm that point of 
view which sees Resistance as reasonable restraint, a point of view 
which contrasts with that of the Lover, who of course wishes to be 
restrained in no way by Reason. 

Not every horse that appears to be controlled by reins repre- 
sents a similar point. In Figs. 33 and 37, for example, we see the 
Lover on horseback, holding the reins of his mount. From the 
standpoint of the total iconography, however, this detail is subor- 
dinate to others: the Lover himself, his clothing, curled hair, his 
dog, the hawk on his wrist in Fig. 33, the nature of the interlocutor 
— Wealth in Fig. 33 and the Old Woman in Fig. 37 — all these 

58 Cf. Kuhn 1913-14, Figs. 4, 10, 14, 15, 26, pp. 19, 26, 29, 30, 41 ; 
MS B. N. fr. 802, fol. 1 R; B. N. fr. 1560, fol. preceding 1 R; B. N. fr. 
1 5 7 5, fol. I R; B. N. Rothschild 2801, fol. 1 R. The beard may also have 
been encouraged by the Nativity scenes, which usually show a bearded Joseph. 



details indicate that the Lover is engaged in the hunt of love, in 
“venery,” and that the horse, though directed, is misdirected. 59 

With these few examples of some of the ways in which the 
illustrations may serve as guides to the poem’s irony, we may turn 
to the problems that face the translator. 


It is clear that much of the irony of the poem depends upon the 
imagery, and it was partly in the hope of maintaining such imagery 
for its iconographic significance that the present translation was 
undertaken. I am aware that the result of such an approach may 
seem at times unnecessarily awkward or wordy, and I cannot in 
good conscience plead that my authors were sometimes so. But it 
has seemed important primarily to preserve the accuracy of the 
diction, the imagery, even when it might not appear to be crucial 
to a given passage. 

The same principle has governed the choice of the prose medium. 
This translation, the first in English prose, follows upon those of 
F. S. Ellis (1900) and Harry W. Robbins (1962), the one in four- 
stress couplets and the other in blank verse. It is based upon the 
edition of Ernest Langlois (1914-24). I had completed the trans- 
lation in draft before the appearance of the first volume of the new 
edition by Felix Lecoy (1965- ), and I provide in the Appendix 

a concordance of line numbers in the two editions, in so far as M. 
Lecoy’s has appeared. In the Notes, I shall call attention to any 
major differences between the two editions. 

The basic difference is one of editorial method and will not be 
readily observable in translation. Briefly, Langlois’s aim was to 
reconstruct a critical, “archetypal” text on the basis of the surviving 
manuscripts j Lecoy’s purpose is to select the best surviving manu- 
script as the basis of a text that follows it closely. One result of 
Lecoy’s procedure is a text, based on MS Paris, B. N. fr. 1573, 
with more marked dialectal characteristics than will be found in 
Langlois’s normalized archetype. Further, since Lecoy numbers 
his lines to agree with the base MS, his count totals thirty fewer 
than Langlois’s, although he supplies twenty-four of these lines 
within his text as emendations and gives the other six in his textual 

59 See 1 5675-750 n. 



variants (see Appendix). The marginal numbers in this translation 
refer the reader to the line numbers of the Langlois edition. 

The chapters into which I have divided the translation reflect 
the divisions of the poem as I have analyzed it above and represent 
an attempt to relate the steps in the love intrigue to the structural 
pattern as I have presented it, with the so-called digressions form- 
ing a reasoned part of that structure. 








MANY men say that there is nothing in dreams but fables and 
lies, but one may have dreams which are not deceitful, whose 
import becomes quite clear afterward. We may take as witness an 
author named Macrobius, who did not take dreams as trifles, for 
he wrote of the vision which came to King Scipio. Whoever thinks 
or says that to believe in a dream’s coming true is folly and stupidity 
may, if he wishes, think me a fool; but, for my part, I am con- 
vinced that a dream signifies the good and evil that come to men, 
for most men at night dream many things in a hidden way which 
may afterward be seen openly. ^ 

In the twentieth year of my life, at the time when Love exacts 
his tribute from young people, I lay down one night, as usual, 
and slept very soundly. During my sleep I saw a very beautiful 
and pleasing dream ; but in this dream was nothing which did not 
happen almost as the dream told it. Now I wish to tell this dream 
in rhyme, the more to make your hearts rejoice, since Love both 
begs and commands me to do so. And if anyone asks what I wish 
the romance to be called, which I begin here, it is the Romance 
of the Rose, in which the whole art of love is contained. Its matter 
is good and new; and God grant that she for whom I have under- 
taken it may receive it with grace. It is she who is so precious and 
so worthy to be loved that she should be called Rose. 

I became aware that it was May, five years or more ago; I 
dreamed that I was filled with joy in May, the amorous month, 
when everything rej oices, when one sees no bush or hedge that does 
not wish to adorn itself with new leaves. The woods, dry during 
the winter, recover their verdure, and the very earth glories in 
the dews which water it and forgets the poverty in which the winter 
was passed. Then the earth becomes so proud that it wants a new 
robe; and it knows how to make a robe so ornate that there are a 

o^‘ cl 


32 The TDream of J^ove 

hundred pairs of colors in it. I mean, of course, the robe of grass 
and flowers, blue, white, and many other colors, by which the earth 
enriches itself. The birds, silent while they were cold and the 
weather hard and bitter, become so gay in May, in the serene 
weather, that their hearts are filled with joy until they must sing 
74 - or burst. It is then that the nightingale is constrained to sing and 
make his noise ; that both parrot and lark enjoy themselves and 
take their pleasure ; and that young men must become gay and 
amorous in the sweet, lovely weather. He has a very hard heart 
who does not love in May, when he hears the birds on the branches, 
singing their heart-sweet songs. And so I dreamed one night that 
I was in that delicious season when everything is stirred by love, 
and as I slept I became aware that it was full morning. I got up 
from bed straightway, put on my stockings and washed my hands. 
Then I drew a silver needle from a dainty little needlecase and 
threaded it. I had a desire to go out of the town to hear the sound 
of birds who, in that new season, were singing among the trees. I 
stitched up my sleeves in zigzag lacing and set out, quite alone, to 
enjoy myself listening to the birds who were straining themselves 
to sing because the gardens were bursting into bloom. 

103 Happy, light-hearted, and full of joy, I turned toward a river 
that I heard murmuring nearby, for I knew no place more beauti- 
ful to enjoy myself than by that river, whose water gushed deep 
and swift from a nearby hill. It was as clear and cold as that from a 
well or fountain, and it was but little smaller than the Seine, but 
was spread out wider. I had never seen a stream so attractively 
situated, and I was pleased and happy to look upon that charming 
place. As I washed my face and refreshed myself with the clear, 
shining water, I saw that the bottom of the stream was all covered 
and paved with gravel. The wide, beautiful meadow came right 
to the edge of the water. The mild morning air was clear, pure, 
and beautiful. Then I walked out away through the meadow, en- 
joying myself as I kept to the river bank in descending the stream. 

129 When I had gone ahead thus for a little, I saw a large and 
roomy garden, entirely enclosed by a high crenelated wall, sculp- 
tured outside and laid out with many fine inscriptions. I willingly 
admired the images and paintings, and I shall recount to you and 
tell you the appearance of these images as they occur to my memory. 

139 In the middle I saw Hatred, who certainly seemed to be the 

The Qarden , the Fountain , and the T^ose 33 

one who incites anger and strife. In appearance the image was 
choleric, quarrelsome, and full of malice ; it was not pleasing, but 
looked like a woman crazy with rage. Her face was sullen and 
wrinkled, with a pug nose; she was hideous and covered with 
filth and repulsively wrapped up in a towel. 

Beside her, to the left, was another image of the same size. I 152 
read her name, Felony, beneath her head. 

I looked back to the right and saw another image named Villainy, 1 56 
who was of the same nature and workmanship as the other two. 

She seemed a creature of evil, an insolent and unbridled scandal- 
monger. He who could produce an image of such a truly con- 
temptible creature knew how to paint and portray; she seemed full 
of all sorts of defamation, a woman who knew little of how to 
honor what she should. 

Covetousness was painted next. It is she who entices men to take 169 
and to give nothing, to collect valuable possessions; it is she who, 
in her great passion for heaping up treasure, loans money at usury 
to many. She excites thieves and rascals to theft; and it is a great 
evil and sorrow that in the end many of them must hang. It is she 
who causes people to take the goods of others, to rob, to ravish, to 
commit fraud, to keep false accounts, and to tally falsely. It is she 
who leads people to the trickery and trumped-up litigation by 
which boys and girls have often been defrauded of their rightful 
inheritances. This image had hands that were clawlike and hooked, 
appropriate to Covetousness, who is always in a fever to get the pos- 
sessions of another. She understands nothing else, but esteems 
most highly what belongs to another. 

There was another image, called Avarice, seated side by side 195 
with Covetousness. This image was ugly; dirty, badly shaped, thin 
and miserable-looking, she was as green as a shallot; she was so 
discolored that she looked sick. She seemed a thing dying of hun- 
ger, one who lived on bread kneaded with strong, bitter caustic. 

She was not only thin but poorly clothed: she had an old coat, 
torn as if it had been among dogs, that was poor and worn out and 
full of old patches. Beside her, on a little thin clothespole, hung a 
mantle and a coat of sleazy material. The mantle had no fur 
linings, but very poor and shabby ones of heavy, shaggy black 
lamb. Her dress was at least ten years old, but, in anything to 
do with clothing, Avarice rarely had any desire to hurry. It weighed 

34 The Dream of J^ove 

heavily on her to use the dress at all, for when it was worn out and 
tattered, she would be very distressed over a new one and would 
suffer great privation before she would have another made. In her 
hand Avarice held a purse which she hid and tied up so tightly 
that she had to wait a long time before she could draw anything out 
of it. But she would have none of it 3 she went to the purse hoping 
only that she might take nothing away from it. 

235 Envy was portrayed next. She never laughed in her life nor 
enjoyed anything unless she saw or heard a report of some disaster. 
Nothing could please her so much as unhappiness and misfortune. 
She is very pleased when she sees misfortune fall on any good man, 
and she rejoices in her heart when she sees a great ancestral house 
fall from its eminence or come into shame. But she is deeply 
wounded when anyone rises to honor through his intelligence and 
ability. Understand that she must be angry when good things hap- 
pen. Envy is so cruel that she bears no loyalty to any companion. 
However closely a relative may hold to her, she has none to whom 
she is not an enemy 3 for, certainly, she would not want good 
fortune to come even to her father. But understand too that she 
pays a heavy price for her malice. When men do good she is 
in such terrible torment and grief that she is just short of melting in 
the heat of her passion. Her wicked heart so cuts her in pieces that 
God and men are revenged on her. Envy finishes no hour without 
imputing some evil to blameless men. I believe that if she knew the 
noblest gentleman here or beyond the sea, she would want to 
defame him 3 and if he were so well trained that she could neither 
entirely ruin his reputation nor bring him into low esteem, then 
she would want at least to deprecate his ability and, through her 
gossip, to minimize his honor. 

279 Then I saw, in the painting, that Envy had a very ugly appear- 
ance: she looked at everything obliquely, and she had this bad 
habit because she could not look anything straight in the face, but 
closed one eye in disdain 3 for she burned and melted with rage 
when anyone at whom she looked was either wise, fair, or noble, 
or was loved or praised by men. 

291 Next, quite close to Envy, Sorrow was painted on the wall. 
Her color seemed to show that she had some great sorrow in her 
heart. She looked as though she had jaundice, and Avarice was 
nothing like as pale and gaunt as she. The dismay, the distress, 

The Qar den y the Fountain^ and the T^ose 35 

the burdens and troubles that she suffered, day and night, had 
made her grow yellow and lean and pale. Nothing in the world 
ever lived in such martrydom nor was ever so greatly enraged as 
it seemed that she was; I believe that no one ever knew how to 
do anything for her that could please her. She did not even want 
to be consoled at any price nor to let go of the sorrow she had 
in her heart; she had angered her heart too much, and her grief 
was too deep-rooted. She seemed to sorrow immeasurably, for she 3 1 3 
had not been slow to scratch her whole face, and she had torn 
her dress in many places, until it was practically worthless, as 
though she had been in a violent rage. Her hair, which she had 
torn out in bad temper and anger, was all unplaited and lay strag- 
gling down her neck. And know truly that she sobbed most pro- 
foundly. There was no one so hardhearted who, seeing her, would 
not have felt great pity as she tore and beat herself and struck 
her fists together. The grief-stricken wretch was completely occu- 
pied in creating woe. She took no interest in enjoyment, in embraces 
and kisses, for whoever has a sorrowful heart — know it as the truth 
— has no talent for dancing or caroling. No one who grieved could 
ever bring himself to have a good time, for joy and sorrow are 
two contraries. 

Old Age, sh unken by a good foot from her former stature, was 339 
portrayed next. She was so old, so far fallen into her second child- 
hood, that she could hardly feed herself. Her beauty was spoiled 
and she had become very ugly. Her entire head was as white with 
age as if it had been decked with flowers. If she had died, it would 
have been neither a great loss nor a great wrong, for age had 
already dried up her body and reduced it to nothing. Her face, once 
soft and smooth, was now withered and full of wrinkles. She had 
mossy ears, and she had lost so many teeth that she had none left. 

Her age was so great that, without a crutch, she would not have 
gone as far as four fathoms. Time, who goes away night and day, 
without rest and without interruption, who parts from us and 
steals away so quickly, seems to us to be always stopped at one 
place, but he never stops there at all. He never ceases passing 
away, so that no man, even if you ask learned clerks, can tell you 
what time it is that is present, for before he had thought, three 
moments would already have passed. Time, who cannot stay, but 373 
always goes without returning, like water which is always descend- 

36 The T)ream of cQjove 

ing, never returning a drop backward ; Time, before whom nothing 
endures, not iron nor anything however hard, for Time destroys 
and devours everything; Time, who changes everything, who 
makes all grow and nourishes all, who uses all and causes it to rot; 
Time, who made our fathers old, who ages kings and emperors and 
will age us all, unless Death cuts us off; Time, who has it in his 
power to age all mankind, had aged Old Age so cruelly that, in 
my opinion, she could not help herself but was returning to her 
infancy. Certainly, I think she had no more power, force, or in- 
telligence than an infant of one year. Nevertheless, to my knowl- 
edge, she had been wise and sensible in her prime; but now, I 
think, she was no longer wise, but had lost all reason. As I re- 
member, she had clothed her body very well and protected it 
against the cold with a fur-lined coat. She was dressed warmly, 
for otherwise she would have been cold. These old people, you 
understand, are very cold by nature. 

407 Next was traced an image of what seemed to be a hypocrite; 
it was called Pope-Holiness. It is she who, in secret, when no one 
can watch her, is not afraid to commit any evil. In public she looks 
as if butter would not melt in her mouth; her face is simple and 
sad, and she seems a saintly creature. But there is no wickedness 
under heaven that she does not think of in her heart. The image 
resembled her very much; it was made in her likeness. The face 
was simple, and she was shod and clothed as if she were a nun. 
In her hand she held a psalter, and she took all kinds of trouble, 
you may know, to make feigned prayers to God and to call upon 
all the saints. She was not gay nor merry, but she appeared to be 
completely occupied in doing good works; she had put on the hair 
shirt. Know too, that she was not fat, but seemed worn out from 
fasting; her color was pale and deathly. To her and hers the door 
to Paradise will be forbidden, for, as the Gospel says, these people 
disfigure their faces for praise among men and for a little vain 
glory which God and his kingdom will carry off from them. 

441 The last portrayed was Poverty, who wouldn’t have a penny if 
she had to hang herself. Even if she could sell her dress, she 
would fare no better, for she was as naked as a worm. I think 
that if the weather had been a little bad she would have perished 
of cold, for she had only an old thin sack, full of miserable patches, 
as her coat and her mantle. She had nothing else to wear, but she 

The (jar den , the Fountain , and the T^ose 37 

had plenty of opportunity for shivering. She was a little apart 
from the others ; she crouched and cowered like a poor dog in a 
corner. Anything poor, wherever it may be, is always shamed and 
despised. Cursed be the hour in which a poor man was conceived, 
for he will never be well fed, well clothed, nor well shod 5 he is 
neither loved nor advanced in fortune. 

I looked over the images well, for, as I have described, they 463 
were done in gold and azure, painted all along the wall. The wall 
itself was high and formed a perfect square 5 it took the place of a 
hedge in enclosing and shutting off a garden where no shepherd 
had ever entered. This garden stood in a very beautiful place, and 
I would have been very grateful to anyone who had been willing 
to lead me inside, either by ladder or over steps 5 for, to my belief, 
no man ever saw such joy or diversion as there was in that garden. 

The birds’ dwelling was not to be scorned, nor was it cheap. No 
place was ever so rich with trees or songbirds: there were three 
times as many birds as in the whole kingdom of France. The har- 
mony of their moving song was very good to hear; all the world 
should enjoy it. For my part, I was so overjoyed when I heard 
them that I would not have taken a hundred pounds, if the way 
into the garden had been open, not to enter and see the flock of 
birds (God save them!) who sang the dances of love in melodies 
that were sweet, courteous, and charming. 

When I heard the birds singing, I began to go out of my mind 497 
wondering by what art or what device I could enter the garden. 

But I could never discover any place where I could get in; you 
see, I didn’t know whether there were opening, path, or place by 
which one might enter. There was not even any one there who 506 
might show me one, for I was alone. I was very distressed and 
anguished until at last I remembered that it had never in any way 
happened that such a beautiful garden had no door or ladder or 
opening of some sort. Then I set out rapidly, tracing the outline 
of the enclosure and extent of the square walled area until I found 
a little door that was very narrow and tight. No man entered there 
by any other place. Since I didn’t know how to look for any other 
entrance, I began to knock on the door. I knocked and rapped a 
great deal and listened many times to see whether I might hear 
anyone coming. Finally a very sweet and lovely girl opened the 
wicket, which was made of hornbeam. She had hair as blond as a 

38 The Dream of T^ove 

copper basin, flesh more tender than that of a baby chick, a gleam- 
ing forehead, and arched eyebrows. The space between her eyes 
was not small but very wide in measure. She had a straight, well- 
made nose, and her eyes, which were gray-blue like those of a 
falcon, caused envy in the harebrained. Her breath was sweet and 
savory, her face white and colored, her mouth small and a little 
full; she had a dimple in her chin. Her neck was of good propor- 
tion, thick enough and reasonably long, without pimples or sores. 
From here to Jerusalem no woman has a more beautiful neck; 
it was smooth and soft to the touch. She had a bosom as white as 
the snow upon a branch, when it has just fallen. Her body was well 
made and svelte; you would not have had to seek anywhere on 
earth to find a woman with a more beautiful body. She had a pretty 
chaplet of gold embroidery. There was never a girl more elegant 
or better arrayed; nor would I have described her right. Above the 
chaplet of gold embroidery was one of fresh roses, and in her 
hand she held a mirror, and she had arranged her hair with a rich 
head-band. Both sleeves were well sewn into a beautifully snug fit, 
and she had white gloves to keep her white hands from turning 
brown. She wore a coat of rich green from Ghent, cord-stitched 
all around. It certainly seemed from her array that she was hardly 
busy. By the time that she had combed her hair carefully and pre- 
pared and adorned herself well, she had finished her day’s work. 
She led a good and happy life, for she had no care nor trouble 
except only to turn herself out nobly. 

When the girl with gracious heart had opened the door to me, 
I thanked her nicely and asked her name and who she was. She 
was not haughty toward me, nor did she disdain to reply. 

“I am called Idleness,” she said, “by people who know me. 
I am a rich and powerful lady, and I have a very good time, for 
I have no other purpose than to enjoy myself and make myself 
comfortable, to comb and braid my hair. I am the intimate ac- 
quaintance of Diversion, the elegant charmer who owns this garden 
and who had the trees imported from Saracen land and planted 
throughout the garden. 

“When the trees were grown, Diversion had the wall, that you 
have seen, built all around them, and on the outside he arranged 
to have portrayed the images that are painted there. They are 
neither elegant nor delightful, but, as you saw just now, sad and 

Fhe (jar den, the Fountain y and the T^ose 39 

mournful. Many times Diversion and those who follow him, and 
who live in joy and comfort, come to this place to have a good 
time in the cool shade. Without doubt, he is at this moment still 
there within, listening to the song of the nightingales, the mavises, 
and other birds. There, with his followers, he enjoys and comforts 
himself, for he could find no better place or spot to indulge in 
pleasure. The fairest people that you ever found anywhere, you 
know, are the companions of Diversion, who leads and guides 

When Idleness had told me these things, and I had listened 619 
closely to all of them, I then said to her, “Lady Idleness, never 
doubt any of these things, since Diversion, the fair and gentle one, 
is now in this garden with his people, and, if it lies in my power, 

I shall not be robbed of the chance of still seeing this assembly 
today. I must see it, for I believe that this company is fair, cour- 
teous, and well instructed.” 

Then I entered into the garden, without saying another word, 631 
by the door that Idleness had opened for me, and, when I was in- 
side, I was happy and gay and full of joy. Believe me, I thought 
that I was truly in the earthly paradise. So delightful was the 
place that it seemed to belong to the world of spirit, for, as it 
seemed to me then, there was no paradise where existence was 
so good as it was in that garden which so pleased me. There were 
many singing birds, collected together, throughout the whole gar- 
den. In one place were nightingales, in another jays and starlings; 
elsewhere again were large schools of wrens and turtledoves, of 
goldfinches, swallows, larks, and titmice. In another place were 
assembled the calender-larks, who were tired out from singing in 
spite of themselves; there, too, were blackbirds and redwings, 
who aspired to outdo the other birds in singing. Elsewhere again 
were parrots and many birds that, in the woods and groves where 
they lived, had a wonderful time with their beautiful songs. 

These birds that I describe to you performed a lovely service: 661 

they sang a song as though they were heavenly angels. Know well 
that I was filled with great joy when I heard it, for mortal man 
never heard so sweet a melody. It was so sweet and beautiful that 
it did not seem the song of a bird; one could compare it rather 
with the song of the sirens of the sea, who have the name siren on 
account of their clear, pure voices. The little birds were intent on 

40 The Uream of J^ove 

their singing, and they were neither unskillful nor ignorant. Know, 
then, that when I heard the song and saw the burgeoning green 
of the place, I was seized with joy; no one had ever been so happy 
as I became then, full of gaiety as I was over the garden’s delectable 
charm. Then I realized and saw that Idleness, who had placed me 
in the midst of this delight, had served me well. My love was due 
her when she unlocked the wicket gate of the branching garden. 

691 From now on, I shall recount to you, as well as I know, how 

I went to work. First I want to tell you, without any long story, 

about what Diversion served and about his companions, and then I 
will tell in a full and orderly way about the appearance of the 
garden. I cannot speak of everything together, but I will recount 
it all in such order that no one will have any criticism to make. 

701 The birds went along performing their wondrously sweet and 

pleasing service, in which they sang love lays and elegant songs, 
one high, the other low. Without joking, the sweetness and melody 
of their singing brought great joy to my heart. But when I had 
heard the birds just a little, I couldn’t hold myself back from going 
off then to see Diversion, for I wanted very much to see how he 
carried on and what he was. I went off then straight to the right, 
by a little path full of fennel and mint, and I found Diversion 
nearby when I penetrated to a secluded place where he was. There 
he enjoyed himself, and with him he had people so fair that, when 
I saw them, I did not know where people so beautiful could have 
come from, for, in absolute truth, they seemed winged angels. 
No man born ever saw such beautiful people. 

727 These people of whom I tell you were formed into a carol, 
and a lady called Joy was singing to them. She knew how to sing 
well and pleasingly; no one presented her refrains more beautifully 
or agreeably. Singing suited her wonderfully, for she had a clear, 
pure voice. Moreover, she was not vulgar, but knew how to move 
her body well in dancing, to kick up her heels and enjoy herself. 
Everywhere she went, she was, customarily, always the first in sing- 
ing, for singing was the activity that she performed most willingly. 

743 Then you would have seen the carol move and the company 
dance daintily, executing many a fine farandole and many a lovely 
turn on the fresh grass. There you would have seen fluters, min- 
strels, and jongleurs. One was singing rotrouenges , another an air 

The (jar den, the Fountain, and the l^ose 41 

from Lorraine, for in Lorraine they have more beautiful airs than 
in any other kingdom. There were also many lady tumblers there- 
abouts. There were tambourine jugglers, expert players who never 
stopped throwing the tambourine into the air and catching it on a 
finger without ever missing. In the middle of the carol, Diversion, 
with great nobility, directed the dancing of two darling young 
ladies dressed only in kirtles, with their hair in single braids. It is 
useless to speak of how quaintly they danced: each one came very 
prettily toward the other, and when they were close they thrust 
their mouths forward in such a way that it would have seemed to 
you that they were kissing each other on the face. They knew well 
how to move their bodies. I don’t know how to describe it to you, 
but I never would have wanted to move as long as I could see these 
people bestirring themselves to carol and to dance. 

I stood there motionless, watching the carol, until a very lively 777 
lady noticed me. She was Courtesy, the worthy and debonair (may 
God keep her from harm!), and she called out to me then: 

“Fair friend, what are you doing there?” said Courtesy. “Come 784 
here and, if it pleases you, join in the carol with us.” Without de- 
laying or stopping I joined the carol, where I was by no means 
at a loss. You may know of course that I was very pleased when 
Courtesy asked me and told me to join the carol, for I was eager 
and longing to carol if I had dared. I began then to look upon the 
bodies, the dress and the faces, the expressions and the manners of 
those who were caroling there, and I shall tell you which they were. 

Diversion was handsome, tall, and straight. Never among men 801 
will you come upon any place where you will see a more handsome 
man. His face, like an apple, was red and white all over, and his 
person was cunningly and beautifully adorned. His eyes were blue- 
gray, his mouth fine, his nose most carefully shaped. His hair 
was blond and curly. Somewhat broad in the shoulders and narrow 
in the waist, he was so elegant and full of grace, so well formed 
in all his limbs, that he looked like a painting. He was lively, 
valiant, and active; I have never seen a more agile man. He had 
neither beard nor mustache, except for a very little down, for he 
was a young man. His body was richly clothed in samite decorated 
with birds and beaten gold. His dress was highly ornamented; in 
several places it was cunningly slashed or cut away. He was shod 

42 The Dream of J^ove 

with great skill in low-cut, laced shoes. His sweetheart had, with 
loving care, made for him a chaplet of roses, which suited him 

8 3 1 And do you know who his sweetheart was? It was Joy, who hated 
him not at all, the gay girl, the sweet singer, who, when she was no 
more than seven years old, had given him the gift of her love. In 
the carol, Diversion held her by the finger, and she him. Each 
suited the other well, for he was handsome and she was beautiful. 
Her color made her look like a new rose; and her skin was so 
tender that one could tear it with a tiny thorn. Her forehead, white 
and gleaming, was free of wrinkles, her eyebrows brown and 
arched, her gay eyes so joyful that they always laughed regularly 
before her little mouth did. I don’t know what to tell you about 
her nose: no one ever made a better one out of wax. Her mouth 
was tiny and ready to kiss her lover. Her head was blond and 
shining. Why should I go on telling you? She was beautiful and 
beautifully adorned. Her hair was laced with a golden thread, and 
she had a brand new chaplet of gold embroidery. I have seen 
twenty-nine of them, and never had I seen a chaplet so beautifully 
worked in silk. Her body was dressed and adorned in a samite 
worked in gold, the same material that her lover wore, only she 
was much more proud of it. 

865 On the other side the God of Love stayed near to her. It is 
he who apportions the gifts of love according to his desire, who 
governs lovers, and who humbles the pride of men, making ser- 
geants of seigneurs and servants of ladies, when he finds them too 
haughty. In his bearing the God of Love did not resemble a boy. 
His beauty, indeed, was greatly to be valued. But I fear that I 
should be grievously burdened in describing his dress, since it 
was not of silk but of tiny flowers made by delicate loves. The 
gown was covered in every part with images of losenges, little 
shields, birds, lion cubs, leopards, and other animals, and it was 
worked with flowers in a variety of colors. There were flowers of 
many sorts, placed with great skill. No flower born in the summer- 
time was missing from it, not even the flower of the broom, the 
violet, the periwinkle, or any yellow, indigo, or white flower. In- 
termingled in places there were large, wide rose leaves. On his head 
he wore a chaplet of roses; but the nightingales that fluttered 
around his head kept knocking them down to the earth. He was 

The (jar den, the Fountain y and the T^ose 43 

completely covered with birds, with parrots, nightingales, calen- 
der-larks, and titmice. It seemed that he was an angel come straight 
from heaven. He had a young man, called Sweet Looks, whom 
he kept there beside him. 

This young fellow watched the carols and kept the two Turkish 907 
bows that belonged to the God of Love. One of these bows was 
made of the wood of a tree whose fruit tastes bitter. The bow was 
filled, below and above, with knots and burls, and it was blacker 
than mulberry. The other bow was made from the trunk of a 
shrub, a little long and of fine workmanship. It was well made, 
planed smooth, and very well ornamented. All over it were painted 
gay and clever ladies and young men. Sweet Looks, who seemed no 
lowborn fellow, held, along with the two bows, ten of his master’s 
arrows. Five of them he held in his right hand, and these five 
arrows had flights and nocks that were very well made, and all 
were painted gold. The points were strong and sharp and keen for 
piercing well, but without iron or steel, for there was nothing that 
was not made of gold, except the feathers and shaft. These arrows 
were tipped with barbed golden points. 

Of these arrows, the best, the swiftest, the most beautiful, and 935 
the one with the best feathers fixed on it, was named Beauty. And 
the name of that one which wounds the most was, in my opinion, 
Simplicity. Another of them was called Openness; this arrow was 
feathered with valor and courtesy. The name of the fourth was 
Company, an arrow that, because of its very heavy point, was not 
prepared to travel very far, but if anyone wanted to fire it at close 
range he could do a lot of damage. The fifth had the name Fair 
Seeming, and, although it was the least harmful of all, neverthe- 
less, it made a very large wound. However, he who is wounded 
by this arrow may expect good grace: his pain is of good use, for 
he can soon expect health, and by it his sorrow must be cured. 

There were five arrows of another sort, as ugly as you like. 957 
The shafts and points were blacker than a devil from hell. The 
first had the name Pride. The second, worth no more, was called 
Villainy, and it was all stained and poisoned with felony. The 
third was called Shame, the fourth, Despair, and the last, without 
doubt, was called New Thought. These five arrows were of one 
sort, all alike. The one bow that was hideous and full of knots and 
burls was very suitable; it should indeed shoot such arrows. Un- 

44 T he T) ream of J^ove 

doubtedly, the power of these five arrows was contrary to that of 
the other five, but I shall not now tell all about their force and 
power. I shall indeed recount to you the truth about them and their 
significance, and I shall not forget to do so; before I finish my 
story I will tell you what all this signifies. 

I shall come back now to my account, for I must tell of the 
countenances, the array, and the appearances of the noble people 
of the carol. The God of Love was well accompanied: he was very 
closely joined to a lady of great worth whose name, like that of one 
of the five arrows, was Beauty. She had many good qualities: 
neither dark nor brunette, she shone as clear as the moon, to which 
the other stars are like tiny candles. Her flesh was as tender as 
dew; she was as simple as a bride and white as the fleur de Us. Her 
face was clear and smooth, straight and somewhat thin. It was not 
rouged or painted, for she had no need to adorn or decorate her- 
self. She had long, blond hair that reached to her heels. Her nose, 
her eyes, her mouth, were all well made. So help me God, my 
heart is touched with great sweetness when I remember the arrange- 
ment of her every limb, for there was no woman so beautiful in all 
the world. Briefly, she was a delightfully pleasing young blonde, 
openly coquettish, nicely elegant, and slender and plump together. 

Wealth, a lady of great dignity, worth, and moment, stayed 
next to Beauty. Whoever dared, in word or in deed, to harm her 
or hers would have been not only overweening but also very brave, 
since she can both harm and help a great deal. The great power 
of rich men to bring both aid and trouble is not just a thing of 
today and yesterday: all the greatest and humblest have done 
honor to Wealth. All hoped to serve her for the love of deserving 
well of her, and each one called her his lady, for everyone feared 
her: the whole world was in her power. To her court came many 
a flatterer, many a traitor, and many an envious man, those who 
are eager to belittle and to blame all who are more successful in 
loving. Outwardly these flatterers praise men in order to please 
them; they anoint everybody with words. But secretly their flat- 
teries pierce men to the bone, for they denigrate the merits of good 
men and decry those who are praised. Flatterers, by their flattery, 
have denounced many good men, for they alienate from court those 
who should be intimate. May misfortunes fall upon these flatterers 
full of envy, for no worthy man loves their existence. 

T he Qarden , the Fountain , and the T^ose 45 

Wealth had a purple robe. Now don’t take it as a trick when 
I tell you truly and assure you that nowhere in the world was there 
a robe so beautiful, so costly, or so gay. The purple was covered 
with gold embroidery which portrayed the stories of dukes and 
kings. The collar was very richly edged with a band of gold 
decorated with black enamel. And you may know for certain that 
there was a great plenty of precious stones which emitted flashes of 
brilliant light. Wealth had a very costly belt which encircled her 
outside the purple robe. The buckle was made of a stone that had 
great power and virtue, for he who wore it on himself feared 
nothing from any poison; no one could poison him. One would do 
well to love such a stone; it was worth more to a rich man than all 
the gold of Rome. The clasp was made of another stone, which 
cured toothache and which had a virtue so great that whoever saw 
it on an empty stomach could, just from seeing it, be protected for 
the whole day. The studs on the cloth woven with gold threads 
were made of purified gold and were large and heavy, each one 
a good bezant. On her blond tresses Wealth had a golden circlet. 
No such beautiful one was ever yet seen. It was made of pure gold, 
cunningly worked. But he who knew how to describe all the 
stones that were in it would be an expert at the art of description, 
for one couldn’t estimate the worth of the stones that were set 
in the gold. There were rubies, sapphires, jargons, and emeralds 
of more than two ounces. In front there was a carbuncle, set with 
great skill, and this stone was so clear that, now that night was 
falling, one could see his way well enough for a league ahead. Such 
brilliance came from the stone that Wealth’s face and head, with 
everything round about, shone radiantly from the light. 

Wealth held by the hand a young man, full of great beauty, one 
who was her true lover. He was a man who took delight in living 
in fine mansions. He was well shod and clothed, and had valuable 
horses. He thought that he might just as well be accused of murder 
or theft as to have a poor horse in his stable. Therefore he cher- 
ished his acquaintance with Wealth and her benevolence toward 
him; for he always thought to live a life of lavish spending, and 
she could furnish the means and support his expenses. Indeed, she 
gave him coins as if she drew them out of granaries. 

Next was Generosity, who was well trained and instructed in do- 
ing honor and distributing gifts. She was of Alexander’s lineage 



1 109 


46 The "Dream of J^ove 

and took joy in nothing so much as when she could say, “Here, 
take this.” Even the wretch Avarice was not so intent on grasping 
as Generosity was on giving. And God made all her goods increase, 
so that she did not know how to give away as much as she had. 
She was highly esteemed and praised. She had done so much 
with her fair gift that she held both fools and wise men completely 
in her power. As a result, I believe that if there were anyone who 
hated her, she would make a friend of him through her services to 
him. Therefore she had the love of both rich and poor at her will. 
The great man who is a miser is a great fool, and a man in high 
place can have no vice so harmful as avarice. A miserly man can 
conquer neither lands nor lordships, for he does not have a plenti- 

1155 ful supply of friends with whom he may work his will. Whoever 
wants to have friends must not love his possessions but must 
acquire friends by means of fair gifts; for, in the same way that 
the loadstone subtly draws iron to itself, so the gold and silver 
that a man gives attract the hearts of men. Generosity wore a com- 
pletely new robe of Saracen purple. Her face was lovely and well 
formed, but her neck was disclosed, since, not long before, she 
had at that very place made a present of her neck-clasp to a lady. 
However, it did not suit her badly that her collar was open and 
her throat disclosed so that her soft flesh showed its whiteness 
across her shirt. 

1175 Generosity, worthy and wise, held the hand of a knight of the 
lineage of the good King Arthur of Britain who carried the banner 
and standard of valor. He is still of such renown that they tell 
stories of him before both kings and counts. The knight next to 
Generosity was but recently come from a tournament where he had 
made many an assault and jousted for his lover. He had uncircled 
many a green helmet, pierced many a bossed shield, and struck 
down many a knight and overcome him by strength and courage. 

1 1 91 After all these came Openness, who was neither brown nor 
swarthy, but white as snow. She did not have an Orleans nose, 
for hers was long and straight. Her eyes were gray-blue and 
laughing, her brows were arched, her hair was long and blond, and 
she was as simple as a dove. She had a heart that was sweet and 
good-natured. She would not have dared to say or do to anyone 
anything that she should not; and if she knew a man who was 
tormented on account of his affection she would have taken pity 

The Qar den y the Fountain , and the T^ose 47 

on him, believe me, for her heart was so full of compassion, so 
sweet and so agreeable that she would have been afraid of com- 
mitting a very base act if anyone were to suffer on her account, 
and she did not come to his aid. She was wearing a smock that 
was not made of canvas ; there was no richer one between there 
and Arras. It was so well gathered and fitted that there was not a 
single tuck that was not properly placed. Openness was very well 
dressed, for no dress is so pretty on a young lady as a smock. A 
woman is quainter and more delightful in a smock than in a kirtle. 
The smock, which was white, signified that she who wore it was 
sweet and open. 

Next, side by side with Openness, was a young bachelor. I 
didn’t know his name, but he was as fair and noble as if he had 
been the son of Windsor’s lord, come to life again. 

Courtesy was next in the ring; since she was neither proud nor 
silly, she was much esteemed by everyone. It was she — may she 
be given grace — who, rather than anyone else, called me into the 
carol when I came there. She was neither foolish nor distrustful 
in her fair replies and fine speeches, but wise and reasonable, with- 
out excess. She never gave anyone cause to feel injured, nor did 
she hold rancor toward anyone. She was a gleaming brunette, with 
a clear and shining face; I know no more pleasing lady. She was 
worthy to be an empress or a queen in any court. She held the 
hand of a knight who was easy to know and pleasant of speech, and 
who knew how to accord due honor to people. He was handsome 
and noble, skillful at arms, and well loved by his sweetheart. 

Lovely Idleness came next, holding close to me. I have given 
you an accurate account of her size and appearance, and I will tell 
you no more of her, for it was she who gave me so great a bounty 
when she opened to me the wicket of the flowering garden. 

Next, according to my knowledge, came Youth, with a clear 
and laughing face, who, as I believe, was not yet much more than 
twelve years old. She was naive and did not suspect the existence 
of any evil or trickery. She was very happy and gay, for, as you 
well know, a young thing is troubled by nothing except play. 
Her sweetheart was so intimate with her that he kissed her when- 
ever he pleased, in sight of all those in the carol. They were never 
ashamed, no matter what anybody said of the two of them. Rather 
you might see them kissing each other like two turtle doves. The 





48 The T )ream of J^ove 

boy was young and handsome, of the same age and spirits as his 

279 Thus these people, along with others of their households, 
danced their carols there. All together they were warm, open 
people, well instructed and beautifully trained. When I had seen 
the appearances of those who led the dances, I then had a desire 
to go see and explore the garden, to contemplate those lovely 
laurels, the pines, cedars, and mulberry trees. Already they were 
stopping the carols, for most of them were going off with their 
sweethearts to shelter under the shade of the trees in order to make 
love. God! What a good life they led! He who does not long for 
such a life is a fool. He who could have such a life might dispense 
with a greater good, since there is no greater paradise than to have 
one’s beloved at one’s desire. At this point I left there and went 
off alone to enjoy myself here and there throughout the garden. 

304 Immediately the God of Love called Sweet Looks. Now he no 
longer cared to have him keep his golden bow: without waiting 
further he commanded him to string the bow, and Sweet Looks did 
not delay in doing so. Immediately he strung the bow and gave it 
to him along with five arrows, strong and shining, ready to shoot. 
Straightway the God of Love began to follow me, bow in hand, 
from a distance. Now may God protect me from a mortal wound if 
he goes so far as to shoot at me! Knowing nothing of all this, 
always enjoying myself, I went along quite freely through the gar- 
den, while the God of Love set his intent on following me; but 
he did not stop me in any place until I had been everywhere. 

323 The garden was a completely straight, regular square, as long 
as it was wide. Except for some trees which would have been too 
ugly, there was no tree which might bear fruit of which there were 
not one or two, or perhaps more, in the garden. There were apple 
trees, I well remember, that bore pomegranates, an excellent food 
for the sick. There was a great abundance of nut trees that in their 
season bore such fruit as nutmegs, which are neither bitter nor 
insipid. There were almond trees, and many fig and date trees 
were planted in the garden. He who needed to could find many a 
good spice there, cloves, licorice, fresh grains of paradise, zedoary, 
anise, cinnamon, and many a delightful spice good to eat after 


The Qarden , the Fountain , and the T^ose 49 

There were the domestic garden fruit trees, bearing quinces, 
peaches, nuts, chestnuts, apples and pears, medlars, white and black 
plums, fresh red cherries, sorb-apples, service-berries, and hazel- 
nuts. In addition, the whole garden was thronged with large laurels 
and tall pines, with olive trees and cypresses, of which there are 
scarcely any here. There were enormous branching elms and, along 
with them, hornbeams and beech trees, straight hazels, aspen and 
ash, maples, tall firs, and oaks. Why should I stop here? There 
were so many different trees that one would be heavily burdened 
before he had numbered them. Know too that these trees were 
spaced out as they should be; one was placed at a distance of more 
than five or six fathoms from another. The branches were long 
and high and, to keep the place from heat, were so thick above 
that the sun could not shine on the earth or harm the tender grass 
for even one hour. 

There were fallow-deer and roe-deer in the garden, and a great 
plenty of squirrels, who climbed among the trees. There were 
rabbits, who came forth out of their burrows for the whole day and 
in more than thirty ways went scampering around one another on 
the fresh green grass. In places there were clear fountains, without 
water insects or frogs and shaded by the trees, but I couldn’t tell 
you the number of them. In little brooks, which Diversion had had 
made there as channels, the water ran along down, making a 
sweet and pleasing murmur. Along the brooks and the banks of the 
clear, lively fountains, sprang the thick, short grass. There one 
could couch his mistress as though on a feather bed, for the earth 
was sweet and moist on account of the fountains, since as much 
grass as possible grew there. 

But the thing that most improved the place was the appearance 
that, winter and summer, there was always an abundance of flowers. 
There were very beautiful violets, fresh, young periwinkles ; there 
were white and red flowers, and wonderful yellow ones. The 
earth was very artfully decorated and painted with flowers of vari- 
ous colors and sweetest perfumes. 

I won’t offer you a long fable about this pleasant, delectable 
place, and it is now time for me to stop, for I could not recall all 
of the beauty and great delight of the garden. However, I went so 
far, to left and to right, that I searched out and saw the entire 



141 1 

50 The "Dream of J^ove 

condition and nature of the garden. And the God of Love followed 
me, watching me all the time, as does the hunter who waits until 
the animal is in good position before he lets fly his arrow. 

425 At last I arrived at a very good spot, when I found a fountain 
under a pine. Not since the time of Charles or Pepin has such a 
fair pine been seen. It had grown so tall that no tree in the garden 
wa$ taller. Nature, with consummate skill, had placed the fountain 
under the pine within a marble stone, and in the stone, on the 
border of the upper side, had cut small letters saying that there 
the fair Narcissus died. 

439 Narcissus was a young man whom Love caught in his snares. 
Love knew so well how to torment him, to make him weep and 
complain, that he had to give up his soul. For Echo, a great lady, 
had loved him more than anything born, and was so ill-used on 
his account that she told him that she would die if he did not give 
her his love. But he, because of his great beauty, was so full of 
pride and disdain that he did not wish to grant her his love, for 
all her tears and prayers. When she heard him refuse, her grief 
and anger were so great and she held him in such great despite that 
she died without delay. But just before she died she prayed to 
God and asked that hardhearted Narcissus, whom she had found 
so indifferent to love, might one day be tormented and burned by 
a love from which he could expect no joy, and that he might know 
and understand the grief of those loyal lovers who are so basely 

467 denied. Since the prayer was reasonable, God confirmed it: one day 
when Narcissus was returning from hunting he came by chance 
to rest at the clear, pure fountain under the pine. He had endured 
such labor in pursuing the hunt by hill and valley that he was very 
thirsty, what with the fierce heat and the fatigue that had left him 
out of breath, and when he saw the fountain, covered by the 
branches of the pine, he thought that there he would drink. Lying 
flat on his stomach over the fountain, he began to drink from it and 
saw his face, his nose and mouth, clear and sharp. Then he was 
struck with wonder, for these shadows so deceived him that he 
saw the face of a child beautiful beyond measure. Then Love 
knew how to avenge himself for the great pride and the resistance 
that Narcissus had directed toward him. And Narcissus was well 
repaid: he mused so long at the fountain that he fell in love with 
his own reflection and died of his love in the end. This was the 

The Qarden , the Fountain y and the T^ose 51 

outcome of the affair, for, when he saw that he could not accom- 
plish his desire and that he was captured so inescapably that he 
could in no way take any comfort, he became so distressed that 
he lost his reason and died in a short time. Thus did he receive 
his deserved retribution from the girl whom he had scorned. You 
ladies who neglect your duties toward your sweethearts, be in- 
structed by this exemplum, for if you let them die, God will know 
how to repay you well for your fault. 

When the inscription had made clear to me that this was indeed 
the true fountain of the fair Narcissus, I drew back a little, since 
I dared not look within. When I remembered Narcissus and his evil 
misfortune, I began to be afraid. But then I thought that I might 
be able to venture safely to the fountain, without fear of misfor- 
tune, and that I was foolish to be frightened of it. I approached 
the fountain, and when I was near I lowered myself to the ground 
to see the running water and the gravel at the bottom, clearer 
than fine silver. It is the fountain of fountains; there is none so 
beautiful in all the world. The water is always fresh and new; 
night and day it issues in great waves from two deep, cavernous 
conduits. All around, the short grass springs up thick and close 
because of the water. In winter it cannot die, nor can the water 
stop flowing. 

At the bottom of the fountain were two crystal stones upon which 
I gazed with great attention. There is one thing I want to tell you 
which, I think, you will consider a marvel when you hear it: when 
the sun, that sees all, throws its rays into the fountain and when 
its light descends to the bottom, then more than a hundred colors 
appear in the crystals which, on account of the sun, become yellow, 
blue, and red. The crystals are so wonderful and have such power 
that the entire place — trees, flowers, and whatever adorns the gar- 
den — appears there all in order. To help you understand, I will 
give you an example. Just as the mirror shows things that are in 
front of it, without cover, in their true colors and shapes, just so, 
I tell you truly, do the crystals reveal the whole condition of the 
garden, without deception, to those who gaze into the water, for 
always, wherever they are, they see one half of the garden, and 
if they turn, then they may see the rest. There is nothing so small, 
however hidden or shut up, that is not shown there in the crystal 
as if it were painted in detail. 



52 The ‘Dream of jQove 

1571 It is the perilous mirror in which proud Narcissus gazed at his 
face and his gray eyes; on account of this mirror he afterward lay 
dead, flat on his back. Whoever admires himself in this mirror can 
have no protection, no physician, since anything that he sees with 
his eyes puts him on the road of love. This mirror has put many a 
valiant man to death, for the wisest, most intelligent and carefully 
instructed are all surprised and captured here. Out of this mirror a 
new madness comes upon men: Here hearts are changed; intelli- 
gence and moderation have no business here, where there is only 
the simple will to love, where no one can be counseled. For it is 
here that Cupid, son of Venus, sowed the seed of love that has 
dyed the whole fountain, here that he stretched his nets and placed 
his snares to trap young men and women; for Love wants no other 
birds. Because of the seed that was sown this fountain has been 
rightly called the Fountain of Love, about which several have 
spoken in many places in books and in romances; but, when I have 
revealed the mystery, you will never hear the truth of the matter 
better described. 

1603 I wanted to remain there forever, gazing at the fountain and the 
crystals, which showed me the hundred thousand things that ap- 
peared there; but it was a painful hour when I admired myself 
there. Alas! How I have sighed since then because of that deceiv- 
ing mirror. If I had known its powers and qualities, I would never 
have approached it, for now I have fallen into the snare that has 
captured and betrayed many a man. 

1615 Among a thousand things in the mirror, I saw rosebushes loaded 
with roses; they were off to one side, surrounded closely by a 
hedge. I was seized by so great a desire for them that not for Pavia 
or Paris would I have left off going there where I saw this splendid 
thicket. When this madness, by which many other men have been 
seized, had captured me, I straightway drew near to the rosebushes. 
Mark well: when I was near, the delicious odor of the roses pene- 
trated right into my entrails. Indeed, if I had been embalmed, 
the perfume would have been nothing in comparison with that of 
the roses. Had I not feared to be attacked or roughly treated, I 
would have cut at least one, that I might hold it in my hand to 
smell the perfume; but I was afraid that I might repent such 
an action, which might easily provoke the wrath of the lord of the 
garden. There were great heaps of roses; none under heaven were 

The garden, the Fountain , and the T^ose 53 

as beautiful. There were small, tight buds, some a little larger, 
and some of another size that were approaching their season and 
were ready to open. The little ones are not to be despised ; the 
broad, open ones are gone in a day, but the buds remain quite 
fresh at least two or three days. These buds pleased me greatly. 

I did not believe that there were such beautiful ones anywhere. 
Whoever might grasp one should hold it a precious thing. If I 
could have a chaplet of them, I would love no possession as much. 

Among these buds I singled out one that was so very beautiful 1655 
that, after I had examined it carefully, I thought that none of 
the others was worth anything beside it; it glowed with a color 
as red and as pure as the best that Nature can produce, and she had 
placed around it four pairs of leaves, with great skill, one after 
the other. The stem was straight as a sapling, and the bud sat on 
the top, neither bent nor inclined. Its odor spread all around; the 
sweet perfume that rose from it filled the entire area. And when 
I smelled its exhalation, I had no power to withdraw, but would 
have approached to take it if I had dared stretch out my hand to 
it. But the sharp and piercing thorns that grew from it kept me 
at a distance. Cutting, sharp spikes, nettles, and barbed thorns 
allowed me no way to advance, for I was afraid of hurting myself. 


1 68 1 




The God of Love, who had maintained his constant watch over 
me and had followed me with drawn bow, stopped near a fig tree, 
and when he saw that I had singled out the bud that pleased me 
more than did any of the others, he immediately took an arrow 
and, when the string was in the nock, drew the bow — a wondrously 
strong one — up to his ear and shot at me in such a way that with 
great force he sent the point through the eye and into my heart. 
Then a chill seized me, one from which I have, since that time, 
felt many a shiver, even beneath a warm fur-lined tunic. Pierced 
thus by the arrow, I fell straightway to the earth. My heart failed ; 
it played me false. For a long time I lay there in swoon, and when 
I came out of it and had my senses and reason, I was very weak 
and thought that I had shed a great quantity of blood. But the 
point that pierced me drew no blood whatever ; the wound was 
quite dry. I took the arrow in my two hands and began to pull 
hard at it, sighing as I pulled. I pulled so hard that I drew out the 
feathered shaft, but the barbed point called Beauty was so fixed 
inside my heart that it could not be withdrawn. It remains within ; 
I still feel it, and yet no blood has ever come from there. 

I was in great pain and anguish because of my doubled danger: 
I didn’t know what to do, what to say, or where to find a physician 
for my wound, since I expected no remedy for it, either of herbs or 
roots. But my heart drew me toward the rosebud, for it longed for 
no other place. If I had had it in my power, it would have restored 
my life. Even the sight and scent alone were very soothing for my 

I began then to draw toward the bud with its sweet exhalations. 
Love selected another arrow, worked in gold. It was the second 
arrow and its name was Simplicity. It has caused many a man 
and woman all over the world to fall in love. When Love saw me 

Qod of J^ove and Affair of the Heart 55 

approach, he did not threaten me, but shot me with the arrow that 
was made of neither iron nor steel so that the point entered my 
heart through my eye. No man born, I believe, will ever dislodge 
it from there, for I tried, without any great joy, to pull the shaft 
from me, but the point remained within. Now know for a truth 
that if I had been full of desire for the rosebud before, my wish 
was greater now. As my woes gave me greater distress, I had an 
increased desire to go always toward the little rose that smelled 
sweeter than violets. I would have done better to go farther away, 
but I could not refuse what my heart commanded. I had to go 
perforce, always where it aspired to be. But the bowman, who 
strove mightily and with great diligence to wound me, did not let 
me move without hurt in that direction. To madden me further, 1765 
he caused the third arrow, called Courtesy, to fly to my heart. 

The wound was deep and wide, and I had to fall in a swoon 
beneath a branching olive tree. I lay there a long time without 
moving. When I was able to stir, I took the arrow and straightway 
removed the shaft from my side, but, no matter what I might 
do, I could not draw out the point. 

There I sat, in deep distress and thought. My wound tormented 1777 
me very much and urged me to approach the rosebud that pleased 
me. But the bowman frightened me away, as indeed he should, 
for he who has been scalded must fear all water. However, neces- 
sity is a powerful force 5 even if I had seen it raining stones and 
crossbow bolts as thick as hail, I would still have had to go toward 
the rosebud, for Love, who excels all other things, gave me the 
strength and heart to perform his commandment. I rose then to 
my feet, as feeble and weak as a wounded man, and made a great 
effort to move forward, nothing daunted by the archer, toward 
the rosebush where my heart longed to be. But there were so many 
thorns, thistles, and brambles, that I hadn’t the power to pass 
through the thicket of thorns and reach the rosebud. I had to 
remain near the hedge, which was next to the rosebushes and made 
of very sharp thorns. But it was a delight for me to be so near that 
I smelled the sweet perfume that came from the rosebud, and I 
was very pleased with what I could see freely. My reward at this 
sight was so great that I forgot my woes in my delight and joy. 

I was greatly healed and comforted; nothing ever pleased me as 1813 
much as to rest in that place. I would never have sought to leave 

56 "The Dream of J^ove 

it. But after I had been there a long time, the God of Love, who 
had shattered my heart in making it his target, made a new 
assault upon me. To my discomfort he shot another arrow and 
made a new wound in my heart, under my breast. This arrow’s 
name was Company, and there is none that subdues a lady or 
young man more quickly. Immediately the great anguish of my 
wounds began again. I swooned three times in a row. 

831 When I revived, I wailed and sighed, for my anguish was grow- 
ing so much worse that I had no hope, either of cure or of relief. 
I would rather have been dead than alive,, for, in my opinion, Love 
would make a martyr of me in the end. I could not part from him 
by any other means. Meanwhile he had taken another arrow, one 
that I value highly and consider very powerful. This arrow is Fair 
Seeming j it does not allow any lover to repent of serving Love, 
no matter what woes he may suffer. It has a point for piercing 
and an edge as keen as a steel razor. But Love had anointed it 
very well with a precious unguent so that it might not hurt too 
greatly. He did not want me to die but to be relieved by the power 
of the unguent, one which was full of healing comfort. Love had 
made it with his own hands to comfort pure lovers and to help 
them support their troubles. When he shot the arrow at me he 
made a great wound in my heart, but the ointment, spreading 
throughout the wound, gave me back the heart which I had lost. 
Without the sweet ointment I would have been dead and in an 
evil plight. 

864 Then I drew the shaft from me, but the head, newly polished, 
remained inside. Thus five of them were so well embedded that 
they would never be removed. Although the ointment was worth 
a great deal to me, nevertheless my wound hurt so much that the 
pain made me change color. This arrow has an unusual property j 
it brings both sweetness and bitterness. Indeed I felt and under- 
stood that it helped me at the same time that it harmed j while 
the point gave me anguish, the ointment gave relief. One part 
heals, the other pains, and thus it helps and harms. 

881 Then straightway Love came toward me with quick steps, and as 
he came he cried out: “Vassal, you are taken. There is no chance 
for escape or struggle. Surrender without making any resistance. 
The more willingly you surrender the sooner will you receive 
mercy. He is a fool who resists the one whom he should flatter and 

Qod of J^ove and Affair of the Heart 57 

before whom he would do better to beg. You cannot struggle 
against me, and I want to teach you that you can gain nothing 
through folly or pride. Rather submit yourself as a prisoner, as I 
wish, in peace and with a good will.” 

I replied simply: “Sir, I surrender willingly, and I shall never 1898 
defend myself against you. May it never please God for me even 
to think of ever resisting you, for to do so is neither right nor 
reasonable. You may do with me what you wish, hang me or kill 
me. I know very well that I cannot change things, for my life is in 
your hand. Only through your will can I live until tomorrow, 
and, since I shall never have joy and health from any other, I 
await them from you. If your hand, which has wounded me, does not 
give me a remedy, if you wish to make me your prisoner or if 
you do not deign to do so, I shall not count myself deceived. Know 
too that I feel no anger whatever. I have heard so much good 
spoken about you that I want to give my heart and body over to 
your service, to be used entirely at your discretion, for if I do your 
will I cannot complain of anything. I still believe that at some 
time I shall receive the mercy that I await, and under such con- 
ditions I submit myself prostrate before you.” 

With these words, I wanted to kiss his foot, but he took me by 1926 
the hand and said, “I love you very much and hold you in esteem 
for the way that you have replied here. Such a reply never came 
from a lowborn fellow with poor training. Moreover, you have 
won so much that, for your benefit, I want you to do homage 
to me from now on: You will kiss me on my mouth, which no base 
fellow touches. I do not allow any common man, any butcher, 
to touch it j anyone whom I take thus as my man must be courteous 
and open. Serving me is, without fail, painful and burdensome ; 
but I do you a great honor, and you should be very glad — since 
Love carries the standard and banner of courtesy — that you have 
so good a master and a lord of such high renown. His bearing is so 
good, so sweet, open, and gentle, that no villainy, no wrong or 
evil training can dwell in anyone who is bent on serving and honor- 
ing him.” 

Immediately, with joined hands, I became his man. And you 1955 
may understand that I grew very proud when his mouth kissed 
mine j this gift gave me great joy. Then he required sureties from 
me: “Friend,” he said, “I have received many homages from one 

58 ’The Dream of J^ove 

and another person by whom I was later deceived. These criminals, 
full of falsity, have tricked me many times. I have heard many a 
complaint about them, and they know how much they burden me. 
If I can get them into my power, I shall sell them dearly. Now, 
because I love you, I wish to be very certain of you and to bind 
you to me so that you may not repudiate your promise or covenant 
with me nor do anything you ought not to do. Since you seem 
loyal to me, it would be a sin if you were to play me false.” 

1977 “Sir,” I said, “hear me. I don’t know why you ask pledges or 
surety of me. Already you know for a truth that you have so 
ravished and captured my heart that without your permission it 
could do nothing for me even if it wished to do so. This heart is 
yours, not mine, for it is bound, for good or ill, to do your pleasure, 
and no man can dispossess you of it. You have placed within it a 
garrison that will guard and rule it well. Beyond all that, if you 
fear anything, make a key for it and carry it with you. The key 
will serve in place of a pledge.” 

1994 “By my head,” said Love, “that idea is not a wild one, and I 
agree to it. He who has command over the heart is sufficiently 
lord of the body; and he who asks more is unreasonable.” Then 
from his purse he drew a small, well-made key made of pure, 
refined gold. “With this,” he said, “I shall lock your heart, and 
I require no other guarantee. My jewels are under this key; it is 
smaller than your little finger, yet it is the mistress of my jewel- 
box, and as such its power is great.” Then he touched my side and 
locked my heart so softly that I hardly felt the key. 

201 1 Thus I did all his will, and when I had put him out of doubt, 
I said: 

2013 “Sir, I have a great capacity for doing what you wish. But, by 
the faith that you owe me, receive my service with thanks. I do 
not say so out of weakness, for I do not fear your service in any 
way, but because a sergeant exerts himself in vain to perform 
worthy service if it does not please the lord for whom he does it.” 

2023 Love replied, “Now do not be distressed. Since you are installed 
in my household, I shall take your service with thanks and raise 
you to high station if some wickedness does not steal it from you. 
Perhaps, however, such elevation will not come immediately. Great 
fortunes do not come in a few hours ; pain and delay are necessary 
for them. Wait and endure the distress that now pains and wounds 

Qod of aQove and Affair of the Heart 59 

you, for I know very well by what potion you will be brought to 
your cure. If you maintain your loyalty I shall give you a marsh 
mallow unguent that will heal your wounds. By my head, it will 
certainly appear if you serve with a good heart, and it will depend 
on how you fulfill, night and day, the commandments that I 
prescribe for pure lovers.” 

“Sir,” I said, “for the grace of God, before you move from here 
charge me with your commandments. I am in good heart to per- 
form them, but perhaps if I didn’t know them I could go astray 
immediately. Therefore, since I don’t want to be mistaken in any- 
thing, I desire very much to learn them.” 

Love replied: “What you say is very good. Now listen and 
remember them. A master wastes his effort when the disciple does 
not turn his heart toward retaining what he hears so that he might 
remember it.” The God of Love then charged me, word by word, 
with his commandments; this romance portrays them well. Let 
him who wishes to love give his attention to it, for the romance 
improves from this point on. From now on one will do well to 
listen to it, if he is one who knows how to recount it, for the end 
of the dream is very beautiful, and its matter is new. I tell you 
that he who will hear the end of the dream can learn a great deal 
about the games of Love, provided that he wishes to wait while 
I tell the tale in French and explain the dream’s significance. The 
truth, which is hidden, will be quite open to you when you hear 
me explain the dream, for it doesn’t contain a lying word. 

“First of all,” said Love, “I wish and command that, if you do 
not want to commit a wrong against me, you must abandon villainy 
forever. I curse and excommunicate all those who love villainy. 
Since villainy makes them base, it is not right that I love it. A 
villain is cruel and pitiless; he does not understand the idea of 
service or friendship. 

“Next, guard well against repeating anything about other people 
which should be kept quiet. Slandering is not a good characteristic. 
Take, for example, the seneschal Kay: in former days, he was hated 
on account of his jeers, and he had a bad reputation. Just as men 
praised Gawain, who was well trained, on account of his courtesy, 
so they blamed Kay because he was wicked and cruel, insolent and 
evil-tongued beyond all other knights. 

“Be reasonable and easy to know, soft-spoken and just toward 






6o The Dream of J^ove 

men of both high and low rank. Cultivate the habit, when you go 
along the streets, of being the first to greet other people ; if some- 
one greets you first, before you have opened your mouth, take 
care to return his greeting without delay. 

2109 “Next, take care not to utter dirty words or anything bawdy. 
You should never open your mouth to name anything base. I do 
not consider any man courteous who names anything that is filthy 
or ugly. 

2115 “Honor all women and exert yourself to serve them. If you 
hear any slanderer who goes around detracting women, take him 
to task and tell him to keep quiet. If you can, do something that is 
pleasing to ladies and girls, so that they will hear good reports 
told and retold about you. By this means you can rise in people’s 

2125 “After all this, guard against pride, for pride, rightly under- 
stood and considered, is madness and sin. He who is tainted with 
pride cannot bend his heart to serve nor to make an entreaty. The 
proud man does the contrary of what a pure lover should do. 

2133 “He, however, who wants to take trouble for love must conduct 
himself with elegance. The man who seeks love is worth nothing 
without elegance. Elegance is not pride. One is worth more for 
being elegant, provided that he be empty of pride, so that he is 
neither foolish nor presumptuous. Outfit yourself beautifully, 
according to your income, in both dress and footwear. Beautiful 
garments and adornments improve a man a great deal. Therefore 
you should give your clothes to someone who knows how to do 
good tailoring, who will seat the seams well and make the sleeves 
fit properly. You should have fine laced shoes and small boots and 
get new ones often, and you must see that they are so close-fitting 
that the vulgar will go around arguing over the way you are going 
to get into or out of them. Deck yourself out with gloves, a belt, 
and a silk purse ; if you are not rich enough to do so, then restrain 
yourself. You should, however, maintain yourself as beautifully as 
you can without ruining yourself. A chaplet of flowers that costs 
little, or of roses at Pentecost — everyone can have these, since great 
wealth is not required for them. 

2165 “Allow no dirt on your person: wash your hands and scrub your 
teeth. If the least black shows under your fingernails, don’t let it 
remain there. Sew your sleeves and comb your hair, but do not 

Qod of Jfove and A fair of the Heart 61 

rouge or paint your face, for such a custom belongs only to ladies 
or to men of bad repute, who have had the misfortune to find a 
love contrary to Nature. 

“Next, you should remember to keep a spirit of liveliness. Seek 
out joy and delight. Love cares nothing for a gloomy man. It’s a 
courtly disease through which one laughs, plays, and has a good 
time. It is thus that lovers have hours of joy and hours of torment. 
At one hour they feel that the sickness of love is sweet, at another, 
bitter. The disease of love is very changeable. Now the lover is 
playful, now tormented, now desolated ; at one hour he weeps and 
at another sings. If, then, you can produce some diverting enter- 
tainment by which you might be agreeable to people, I command 
you to do so. Everyone in all places should do what he knows 
suits him best, for such conduct brings praise, esteem, and gratitude. 

“If you feel yourself active and light, don’t resist the impulse 
to jump; if you are a good horseman, you should spur your mount 
over hill and dale; if you know how to break lances, you can gain 
great esteem from doing so; and if you are graceful at arms, you 
will be ten times loved for that quality. If you have a clear, sound 
voice and are urged to sing, you should not try to excuse yourself, 
for a beautiful song is very pleasing. Moreover, it is very advan- 
tageous for a young fellow to know how to play the viol, to flute, 
and to dance. By these means he can further himself a great deal. 

“Don’t let yourself be thought miserly, for such a reputation 
could be very troublesome. It is fitting for lovers to give more 
freely of what they have than do those vulgar, stupid simpletons. 
No man who doesn’t like to give can ever know anything about 
love. If anyone wants to take pains in loving, he must certainly 
avoid avarice, for he who, for the sake of a glance or a pleasant 
smile, has given his heart away completely should certainly, after 
so rich a gift, give his possessions away without any reserve. 

“Now I want to recall briefly what I have told you so that you 
will remember, for a speech is less difficult to retain when it is 
short. Whoever wants to make Love his master must be courteous 
and without pride; he should keep himself elegant and gay and be 
esteemed for his generosity. 

“Next, I ordain that night and day, in a penitential spirit and 
without turning back, you place your thought on love, that you 
think of it always, without ceasing, and that you recall the sweet 



221 1 



62 "The "Dream of J^ove 

hour whose joy dwells so strongly in you. And in order that you 
may be a pure lover, I wish and command you to put your heart in 
a single place so that it be not divided, but whole and without 
deceit, for I do not like division. Whoever divides his heart among 
several places has a little bit of it everywhere. But I do not in the 
least fear him who puts his whole heart in one place ; therefore I 
want you to do so. Take care, however, that you do not lend it, 
for if you had done so, I would think it a contemptible act; give 
it rather as a gift with full rights of possession, and you will have 
greater merit. The favor shown in lending something is soon re- 
turned and paid for, but the reward for something given as a gift 
should be great. Then give it fully and freely, and do so with an 
easy manner, for one must prize that which is given with a pleasant 
countenance. I would not give one pea for a gift that one gave 
in spite of himself. 

2265 “When you have given your heart away, as I have been exhort- 
ing you to do, things will happen to you that are painful and hard 
for lovers to bear. Often, when you remember your love, you will 
be forced to leave other people so that they might not notice the 
suffering which racks you. You will go all alone to a place apart; 
then sighs and laments, shivers, and many other sorrows will come 
to you. You will be tormented in several ways, one hour hot, 
another cold, ruddy at one time and pale at another. You have 
never had any fever as bad, neither daily nor quartan agues. Before 
this fever leaves you, you will indeed have tested the sorrows of 
love. Now it will happen many times, as you are thinking, that 
you will forget yourself and for a long time will be like a mute 
image that neither stirs nor moves, without budging a foot, a hand, 
or a finger, without moving your eyes or speaking. At the end of 
this time you will come back in your memory and will give a start 
of fright upon returning, just like a man who is afraid, and you 
will sigh from the depths of your heart, for you well know that 
thus do those who have tested the sorrows that now so torment you. 

2299 “Next, it is right for you to remember that your sweetheart is 
very far away from you. Then you will say: c Oh God, how misera- 
ble I am when I do not go where my heart is! Why do I send my 
heart thus along? I think constantly of that place and see nothing 
of it. I cannot send my eyes after my heart, to accompany it; and 
if my eyes do not do so, I attach no value to the fact that they 

Qod of J^ove and Affair of the Heart 63 

see. Must they be held here? No, they should rather go to visit 
what the heart so desires. I can indeed consider myself a sluggard 
when I am so far from my heart. God help me, I hold myself a 
fool. Now I shall go 5 no longer will I leave my heart. I shall 
never be at ease until I see some sign of it. 5 Then you will set 
out on your way, but under such conditions that you will often 
fail of your design and spend your steps in vain. What you seek 
you will not see, and you will have to return, thoughtful and sad, 
without doing anything more. 

“Then you will be in deep misery and be visited again by sighs, 
pangs, and shivers, that prick more sharply than a hedgehog. Let 
him who does not know this fact ask it of those who are loyal 
lovers. You will not be able to calm your heart, but will continue 
to go around trying to see by chance what you long for so much. 
And if you can struggle until you attain a glimpse, you will want 
to be very intent on satisfying and feasting your eyes. As a result 
of the beauty that you see, great joy will dwell in your heart; 
know, too, that by looking you will make your heart fry and 
burn, and as you look you will always quicken the burning fire. 
The more anyone looks upon what he loves, the more he lights 
and burns his heart. This fat lights and keeps blazing the fire 
that makes men love. By custom every lover follows the fire that 
burns him and lights him. When he feels the fire from close by, 
he goes away by approaching closer. The fire consists in his con- 
templation of his sweetheart, who makes him burn. The closer 
he stays to her the more avid he is for love. Wise men and simple- 
tons all follow this rule: he who is nearer the fire burns more. 

“As long as you see your joy thus you will never seek to move, 
and, when you have to leave, you will remember the whole day 
afterward what you have seen. And you will think yourself very 
vilely deceived in one respect, that you never had a heart bold 
enough to speak with her; like a gauche simpleton you stood near 
her without uttering a word. You will think that you acted badly 
in not speaking to the beauty before she had gone. You are bound 
to become exceedingly vexed, for if you had been able to elicit 
from her nothing but a fair greeting it would have been worth 
a hundred marks to you. 

“Then you will take to lamenting and will look for an occasion 
to go again along the street where you saw the one to whom you 




64 The "Dream of J^ove 

dared not speak. You would enter her house very gladly, if you 
had the opportunity. It is right that all your walks, all your com- 
ings and goings, should come back to that neighborhood, but hide 
yourself well from other people and seek out some pretext other 
than that which impels you to that area. It is very good sense to 
cover yourself. 

2391 “If it happens that you find the beauty where you must speak to 
her or greet her, then your color will be bound to change, and all 
your blood will thrill. When you think to begin, your sense and 
powers of speech will fail you 5 and if you can get so far that you 
dare to begin your speech, then you will be so full of shame that 
when you should say three things you will not utter two of them. 
There never was a man so prudent in such a case that he did not 
forget a great deal, unless he were a trickster. But false lovers tell 
their streams of tales just as they wish, without fear. They are 
great liars; these cruel, wicked traitors say one thing and think 

2411 “When you have finished your discussion — without saying a 
single word of villainy — you will think yourself tricked because 
you forgot something you should have said. Then again you will 
feel your martyrdom. This is the battle, the fire, this the struggle 
that lasts forever. A lover will never possess what he seeks; some- 
thing is always missing, and he is never at peace. This war will 
never finish until I wish to seek the peace. 

2423 “When night comes, then you will have more than a thousand 
torments. You will lie down in your bed with small delight, for 
when you think that you are about to sleep, you will begin to 
tremble, to shudder and shake. You will have to turn on one side, 
then on the other, then on your stomach, like someone with tooth- 
ache. Then you will remember her incomparable manner and ap- 
pearance. And I will tell you of a great wonder: there will be a 
time when you will think that you are holding her, with shining 
face, quite naked in your arms, just as if she had become wholly 
your sweetheart and your companion. Then you will build castles 
in Spain and will take joy in nothing as much as in going around 
deluding yourself with this delectable thought that contains only 
lies and fables. But you will not be able to dwell long on this 
thought. Then you will begin to weep and will say: 

“ c God! Have I been dreaming? What is this? Where was I 


Qod of Jfjove and Affair of the Heart 65 

lying? Where did this thought come from? Certainly I would wish 
that it might come back ten or twenty times a day, for it nourishes 
me completely and fills me with joy and good fortune. But it is 
death to me that it lasts for so little. God! Shall I ever see the 
day when I may actually be in the situation that I imagine? I 
would want it even with the condition that I should die straightway. 

Death would not trouble me if I might die in my sweetheart’s 
arms. It is Love that troubles and torments me: I often complain 
and lament my state. But if Love arranges that I may have com- 
plete joy of my sweetheart, my woes will be well purchased. 

“ ‘Alas! I ask for a possession too dear. I do not think myself 2468 
wise in making such an outrageous request. It is right to refuse 
him who makes a stupid request. I don’t know how I dared say 
it. Many a man worthier and more renowned than I would be 
highly honored by a considerably smaller recompense. But if the 
fair one deigned to ease my pain with no more than a single kiss 
I would have a rich reward for the pain that I have suffered. Still, 
that is a big thing to expect. I may indeed think myself a fool 
when I have set my heart where I shall have neither joy nor profit. 

Now I am speaking like a stupid wretch, for one look from her is 
worth more than the complete enjoyment of another. God help 
me, I should like very much to see her at this instant. He who 
saw her now would be cured. O God! When will the dawn come? 

I have stayed in this bed too long, for I can hardly bear to lie down 
without that which I desire. To lie without rest or sleep is a 
vexatious thing. Certainly it troubles me very much that the dawn 
does not spring up at this instant and that the entire night has not 
passed, for, if it were day I would get up. Ah, sun! For God’s 
sake, hurry, and do not delay or stop ; banish the dark night, with 
its troubles that weigh me down.’ 

“Thus, if I ever knew the sickness of love, you will carry on, 2505 
with little sleep, throughout the night. And when you can’t bear 
your suffering lying awake in your bed, you will have to dress, put 
on your shoes, and adorn yourself. Then, whether it is raining or 
freezing, you will go in secret directly to the house of your sweet- 
heart, who will be sound asleep, with hardly a thought of you. One 
hour you will go to the back door to see if it were left unclosed, 
and there you will perch like a crane all alone, outside in the wind 
and rain. Afterward you will come to the front door, and if you 

66 The Dream of T^ove 

find a chink, a window or lock, put your ear to it to hear if they are 
lying asleep. And if the fair one alone wakes up, I advise and 
counsel you to lament and sigh so that she hears you and knows 
that for love of her you cannot rest in your bed. A woman who is 
not hardhearted ought certainly to have pity on him who endures 
such pain for her sake. 

2535 “Now I will tell you what you should do for the love of that 
high sanctuary whose comfort you cannot possess: on your return, 
kiss the door, and in order that no one sees you in front of the 
house or in the street, take care that you have left before the light 
of day. These comings and goings, these night watches and con- 
versations make lovers waste away under their garments, as you 
know very well from your own experience. It is normal that you 
should waste away, for love, you understand, leaves no color or 
fat on pure lovers. Those who go around betraying women are 
readily recognizable by this test. In order to flatter they say that 
they have lost their taste for food and drink, but I see these trick- 
sters fatter than an abbot or a prior. 

2557 “Furthermore, I command and charge you to be generous to- 
ward the servant girl of the house. Give her something to adorn 
herself such that she will call you a worthy man. You should honor 
and hold dear both your sweetheart and all those who wish her 
well. Through them much good can come to you. When those 
close to her tell her that they have found you upright, courteous, 
and accomplished, she will value you half again as much for 
their praise. 

2569 “Don’t leave the country often; if some great necessity compels 
you to do so, take care that your heart remains, and plan to return 
quickly. You should delay very little; pretend that any delay 
keeps you from the sight of her who has your heart in her keeping. 

2577 “Now I have told you how and in what manner a lover should 
perform my service. Do so if you wish to have your pleasure of the 
fair one.” 

2581 When Love had made these commands, I asked him: “Sir, how 
and in what way can these lovers endure the woes that you have 
told me about? I am greatly terrified by them. How can one keep 
on living when he is in burning pain and sorrow, weeping and 
sighing, weighed down by the care and attention that he must 

Qod of J^ove and Affair of the Heart 67 

give to every detail and every condition? God help me; I marvel 
greatly how any man, even one of iron, can live for a year in 
such hell.” 

The God of Love then replied to my question with a good 2595 
explanation: “Fair friend, no one has anything good unless he pays 
for it. Men love a possession more when they have bought it at a 
higher price, and the good things for which one has suffered are 
received with greater thanks. It is true that no woe measures up to 
that which colors lovers. No more than one can empty the sea 
could any man recount in a romance or a book the woes of love. 

And in any case, lovers must live, for life is their occupation. 
Everyone willingly flees death: he who is put into a dark prison, 
in a verminous, filthy place, with nothing to eat but barley or oat 
bread, does not die from his suffering. Hope brings him comfort, 
and he always thinks that some change will see him free. He whom 
Love keeps in his prison has exactly the same expectation: he hopes 
for a remedy ; this hope comforts him, and his heart’s desire brings 
him to offer his body in martyrdom. Hope makes him bear pains 
that no one can tell for the joy that is worth a hundred times 
as much. Hope triumphs through suffering and enables lovers to 
live. Blessed be Hope, who thus furthers the cause of lovers! Hope 
is very courteous: right up to the end, she will never leave any 
valiant man, in any peril or distress, by so much as one fathom. 

Even to the robber whom men want to hang she always brings 
the expectation of her grace. She will protect you and will never 
part from you without helping you in your need. 

“Along with her I give you three other gifts that bring great 2640 
comfort to those in my nets. The first to comfort those whom Love 
enmeshes is Sweet Thought, who recalls to them what Hope agrees 
to. When the lover sighs and complains and lies in sorrow and 
martyrdom, Sweet Thought comes after a certain time, disperses 
his wrath and sorrow, and, by his coming, makes the lover remem- 
ber the joy that Hope had promised him. Afterward he presents 
him with images of laughing eyes, a well-formed nose, neither too 
large nor too small, and a red mouth whose breath is fragrant. 

Sweet Thought pleases the lover very much when he recalls to 
him the beauty of each member. He continues by doubling the 
lover’s solace when he brings to his memory a smile, a lovely ap- 





68 The ^Dream of J^ove 

pearance, or a beautiful face that his sweetheart had turned upon 
him. Sweet Thought thus assuages the sorrow and torment of love. 

I very much want you to have this comfort. 

“And if you refused the second, which is no less sweet, you 
would be very resistant. This second is Sweet Talk. He has brought 
help to many young men and women, for everyone who holds con- 
versation about his loves is diverted. I remember that in this 
connection a lady who loved well uttered a courteous word in her 
song: T am in a good school, 5 she said, ‘whenever anyone discusses 
my lover with me. God help me, anyone who speaks to me of 
him, no matter what he says, has given me relief.’ She knew what- 
ever there was to know about Sweet Talk, for she had tested him 
in many ways. 

“Now I want you to seek out a wise and discreet companion, one 
to whom you can tell all your desires and reveal your whole heart. 
He will be a great help to you. When your troubles wring you 
with anguish, you will go to him for comfort, and the two of you 
will talk together about the beautiful lady who, with her beauty, 
her appearance, with her mere countenance, is stealing your heart. 
You will tell him your whole situation and will ask his advice on 
how you can do something which might be pleasing to your sweet- 
heart. If he who is so much your friend hasi given his heart in good 
love, then the companionship will be worth more. It is quite right 
that he tell you in turn whether his sweetheart is a young girl or 
not, who she is and what her name is. And you will not fear that 
he will try to take your love away nor expose you. Rather will 
you keep good faith between you, you to him and he to you. Know 
that it is a very pleasant thing when one has a man to whom one 
dares to tell one’s counsel and one’s secrets. You will take this 
pleasure with great thanks and, when you have tried it, you will 
consider yourself well repaid. 

“The third benefit to come up for consideration is Sweet Looks, 
who usually comes late to those whose loves are far away. However, 
I advise you to stay close to yours for the sake of Sweet Looks, so 
that his comforts are not too long delayed. He is very delightful 
and delicious to lovers. The eyes have many a good fortune in the 
morning, when God shows them the precious sanctuary for which 
they have such longing. No misfortune should happen to them on 
the day when they can see it. They fear neither dust nor wind 

Cfod of Jfove and Affair of the Heart 69 

nor any other troublesome thing. And when the eyes live in de- 
light, they are so taught and instructed that they cannot be joyful 
alone, but want the heart to enjoy itself too. The eyes alleviate the 
heart’s woes, for, like true messengers, they send the heart im- 
mediate reports of what they see; and then the heart for joy must 
forget the sorrows and darkness in which it had dwelt. In just the 
same way as the light drives darkness before it, so Sweet Looks 
effaces the shadows where the heart lies night and day, languishing 
of love; for the heart suffers no pain when the eyes see what it 

“Now, it seems to me, I have declared to you what I saw you 
were lacking, for I have told you, without lying, the benefits that 
can protect lovers and keep them from death. Now you know 
what will bring you comfort: at the least you will have Hope, and 
without doubt you will have Sweet Thought, Sweet Talk, and 
Sweet Looks. I want each of these to watch over you until you 
can expect something better, for in the future you will have other 
good things, not less but greater. For the moment, however, I 
give you this much.” 

As soon as Love had told me his pleasure, he vanished before I 
knew a word to say; I was completely stupefied when I saw no one 
near me. My wounds pained me sorely, and I knew that I could 
not be cured except through the rosebud where I had placed all 
my heart’s yearning. And to obtain it, I had confidence in no one 
except the God of Love. Indeed, I knew for a truth that there 
was no hope of obtaining it if Love did not intervene for me. 

The rosebushes were enclosed about with a hedge, as if forever, 
but I would very willingly have penetrated the enclosure for the 
sake of the rosebud, which was better than balm, if I had not 
feared to incur blame; as soon as I tried, it could appear that I 
wanted to steal the roses. 

As I thus thought over the possibility of passing to the other 
side of the hedge, I saw, coming straight toward me, a handsome 
and personable youth in whom there was nothing to find fault with. 
He was called Fair Welcoming, and he was the son of Courtesy 
the wise. He very pleasantly left the passage through the hedge 
open to me and said in a friendly way: 

“Dear fair friend, if it pleases you, pass without hindrance 
through the hedge to smell the perfume of the roses. I can well 






jo like Dream of J^ove 

assure you that you will experience no trouble or churlishness 
provided that you avoid folly. If I can help you in any way, never 
seek to plead with me, for I am ready at your service. I tell you 
all this without pretense.” 

2807 “Sir,” I said to Fair Welcoming, “I accept this promise with 
thanks, and may you have grace and merit in return for the kind- 
ness that you have uttered, for it comes from your great generosity. 
And when it pleases you, I am ready to undertake your service 

2814 Through thorns and briars, of which there were many in the 
hedge, I passed straightway to the other side. I went wandering 
toward the rosebud, which gave forth a better odor than the others, 
and Fair Welcoming directed me. I tell you that I was overjoyed 
at being able to remain so near that I might have attained to 
the rose. 

2823 Fair Welcoming served me well when I saw the bud so close. 
But a base churl — shame come to him — was resting nearby. His 
name was Resistance, and he was keeper and guard of all the rose- 
bushes. The wretch was off to one side, all covered with grass and 
leaves, in order to spy on and catch unaware those whom he saw 
reaching out their hands toward the roses. The evil dog was not 
alone but had as his companions Foul Mouth the tale-bearer and 
Shame and Fear along with him. The most worthy among them 
was Shame. If one tells her parentage and ancestry correctly, she 
was the daughter of Reason the wise, and her father’s name was 
Misdeeds, a man so hideous and ugly that Reason never lay with 

2845 him but conceived Shame just upon seeing him. When God had 
caused Shame to be born, Chastity, who should be the lady of roses 
and buds, was attacked by scoundrels of unbridled appetite so that 
she needed help, for it was Venus who had attacked her. Venus 
often steals from her, night and day, both roses and buds together. 
Chastity then asked Reason for her daughter. Since Chastity was 
the disheartened victim of Venus’s persecution, Reason wanted to 
grant her her prayer and, in accordance with her request, loaned 
her her daughter Shame, a simple, honest girl. Then, the better 
to guard the rosebushes, Jealousy had Fear come, who strives 
mightily to do her bidding. Now there are four to guard the roses, 
and these four will let themselves be soundly beaten before anyone 
carries off a bud or a rose. I would have arrived at a fair harbor 

(jod of J^ove and Affair of the Heart 71 

if they had not been watching me, for Fair Welcoming, open and 
well brought up, did whatever he knew that should have pleased 
me. He often urged me to approach the rosebud and touch the 
bush that bore it. He gave me permission for all this because he 
thought that I wanted it 5 he cut a green leaf near the bud and 
gave it to me because it had been born nearby. 

I became very proud of the leaf, and when I felt myself ac- 
quainted and thus intimate with Fair Welcoming, I thought that 
I had indeed arrived. Then I took heart and boldly told him how 
Love had captured and wounded me. 

“Sir,” I said, “I shall' never have any joy except through one 
thing, for I have enclosed within my heart a very heavy sickness 
that I don’t know how to tell, for I fear greatly that I would anger 
you. It would be better for me to be cut up piece by piece with a 
steel knife than that you should be angered.” 

“Tell me your wish,” he said, “since nothing that you want to 
say will ever cause me sorrow.” 

Then I said to him, “Know, fair sir, that Love torments me 
grievously. Do not think that I am lying to you; he has made 
five wounds in my heart, and their pain will never cease if you do 
not give me the rosebud that is more beautifully formed than the 
others. It is my death and my life; I have no desire for any other 

Then Fair Welcoming grew frightened and said to me: “Brother, 
you aspire to what cannot take place. What! Do you want to dis- 
grace me? You would indeed have made a fool out of me if you 
had plucked the rosebud from its bush. It is not just to strip it of 
its nature, and you are base to ask it. Let it grow and improve; 
I love it so much that for no living man would I want it exiled 
from the bush that bore it.” 

At this point the scoundrel Resistance jumped out from where 
he was hidden. He was large and black, with bristly hair, and his 
eyes were as red as fire; his nose was flat, his face hideous, and 
he cried out in rage: 

“Fair Welcoming, why have you brought this young man in 
among the roses? God save me, you have done wrong, since he 
hopes for your degradation. Cursed be he — except you only — who 
led him into this garden. He who serves a criminal is himself as 
much one. You plan his good and he seeks to shame and oppose 











72 "The Dream of J^ove 

you. Flee, young man, flee from here, for it would take only 
little to make me kill you. Fair Welcoming knew you very badly 
when he took such pains to serve you, while you seek only to 
trick him. Ask me no more to trust you, for the treason that you 
have hatched is now indeed proved.” 

Because of the hideous, black villain who threatened to attack 
me, I dared stay there no longer. He made me clear the hedge 
in great fear and haste ; the villain shook his head and said that if 
I ever returned he would give me harsh treatment. 

Then Fair Welcoming fled and I remained stupefied, overcome 
with shame, and I repented for ever saying what I thought. I 
remembered my folly, and I saw that my body was given over to 
suffering, pain, and martyrdom. And with all this I was most 
angry that I had dared to pass through the hedge. No one has 
suffered who has not tried Love. Do not believe that anyone, if he 
has not loved, has known what great anguish is. Love was acquitting 
himself very well toward me of all the suffering that he had told 
me about. No heart could think or mouth of man tell over the 
fourth part of my sorrow. My heart almost left me when I re- 
membered the rose from which I had to be thus separated. 


I was in this state for a long time, until the lady who looks down 2971 
from her tower saw, from her observation-point, that I was thus 
downcast. This lady’s name was Reason. She then came down from 
her tower and came straight to me. She was neither young nor 
white with age, neither too tall nor too short, neither too thin nor 
too fat 5 the eyes in her head shone like two stars, and she wore a 
crown on her head. She looked like a person of high estate. By 
her appearance and her face it seemed that she was made in 
paradise, for Nature would not have known how to make a work 
of such regularity. Know, if the letter does not lie, that God made 
her personally in his likeness and in his image and gave her such 
advantage that she has the power and the lordship to keep man 
from folly, provided that he be such that he believe her. 

While I was thus lamenting, Reason began thereupon: “Fair 2996 
friend, folly and childishness have brought you this suffering and 
dismay. It was an evil hour when you saw the beauty of May that 
gladdened your heart so much. It was an evil hour when you went 
to shelter in the cool shade of the garden where Idleness carries 
the key with which she opened the gate for you. He who acquaints 
himself with Idleness is a fool; acquaintance with her is very 
dangerous, for she has betrayed and deceived you. Love would 
never have seen you if Idleness had not led you into the fair garden 
of Diversion. If you have behaved stupidly, now do what you can 
to recover, and take good care not to believe any advice that would 
make you act stupidly. He who corrects himself commits the best 
kind of folly, and one should not wonder when a young man com- 
mits a folly. Now I want to tell and advise you to forget the love 
by which I see that you are thus weakened, thus conquered and 
tormented. I cannot otherwise envisage your health or cure, for 
cruel Resistance hopes to wage a very violent war against you. You 

74 The "Dream of J^ove 

do not have to test him. Moreover, Resistance is worth nothing in 
comparison with my daughter Shame, who guards and protects 
the roses like one who is no simpleton. Thus on her account you 
should have great fear, for I see no one worse for your desires. 

3033 With these is Foul Mouth, who will allow no man to touch the 
rose. Before anything can be done, he will have reported it in a 
hundred places. You have very hard people to deal with. Now con- 
sider carefully which course is better, to abandon or to pursue what 
makes you live in sorrow, that sickness called love, in which there is 
nothing but madness. Madness, God help me, is the truth ! A man 
who loves can do nothing well nor attend to any worldly gain: 
if he is a clerk, he loses his learning, and if he follows some other 
trade, he can hardly accomplish it. Moreover, he suffers more than 
a hermit or a white monk. The pain of love is immeasurable and 
its joy of short duration. If a man has any joy of love, it lasts but 
little, and he has it by chance, for I see that many strive for love 
who in the end miss it completely. You didn’t heed any of my 
counsel when you gave yourself to the God of Love. It was your 
too-fickle heart that made you enter into such folly. Your folly 
was quickly undertaken, but to leave off requires great skill. Now 
don’t set store by the love that makes you live without worth, 
for if one does not prevent it, madness increases constantly. Take 
the bit hard in your teeth ; subdue and curb your heart. Y ou must 
pit your strength and resistance against the thoughts of your heart. 
He who always believes his heart cannot keep from committing 
acts of folly.” 

3073 When I heard this rebuke I replied angrily: “Lady, I very 
much want to beg you to give over lecturing me. You tell me 
that I should curb my heart, so that Love may no longer sub- 
jugate it. Do you think then that Love would agree that I should 
curb and subdue the heart which is his in full and complete pos- 
session? What you say cannot be. Love has so subdued my heart 
that it is not subject to my will 5 he rules it so firmly that he has 
made a key to lock it. Now let me be immediately, for you could 
waste your French in idleness. I would rather die thus than that 
Love should have accused me of falsity or treason. I want to be 
praised or blamed, at the end, for having loved well. Anyone who 
lectures me annoys me.” 

Involvement of Treason and Q as tie of Jealousy 75 

Thereupon Reason left, since she saw that by speech she could 
not turn me from my purpose. 

I remained, full of anger and sorrow, often weeping, often com- 
plaining, for I knew of no way of getting out of my plight by 
myself, until it came to my memory that Love had told me that I 
should seek out a companion to whom I might say quite openly 
what I thought. This companion would take my torment from 
me. Then I reflected that I had a companion whom I knew to be 
a very loyal one: his name was Friend, and I have never had a 
better companion. 

I went off quickly to him and, just as Love had recommended, 
disclosed to him the obstacles by which I felt myself surrounded : I 
complained to him of Resistance, who all but wanted to swallow 
me whole, who made Fair Welcoming go away when he saw me 
talking to him about the rosebud toward which I yearned, and 
who told me that I would pay for it if he ever saw me enter the 
enclosure for any reason. 

When Friend knew the truth, he was not frightened, but said 
to me: “Now, companion, be reassured and undismayed. I have 
known Resistance well for a long time. He has learned to maltreat, 
injure, and menace those who are beginning to love. I found out 
about him a long time ago. If you have found him cruel, he will 
be quite otherwise at the end. I know him like a penny. He knows 
well how to become mild when you use flattery or supplication. 
Now I will tell you what to do. I recommend that you beg him 
to pardon you and, through love and accord, to give over his ill 
will j and put it to him as an agreement that never from now on 
will you do anything to displease him. When anyone flatters him 
with such blandishments, it is a thing that mollifies him very much.” 

Friend talked and spoke so much that he comforted me a little 
and gave me the hardihood and will to go forth and see if I might 
placate Resistance. 

I came contrite to Resistance, eager to make my peace, but I did 
not pass through the hedge because he had forbidden me the 
passage. I found him standing upright, menacing and angry in 
appearance, with a thorn club in his hand. With bent head I held 
my course toward him and said: 

“Sir, I have come here to beg for your mercy. I am weighed 



3 1 1 1 









j6 The Ttream of J^ove 

down with chagrin if I ever did anything that could have angered 
you, but now I am ready to make amends in any way that you can 
command. Unquestionably, it was Love, from whom I cannot 
withdraw my heart, who made me act so. But I shall never aspire 
to anything that would trouble you. I would rather endure my 
discomfort than do anything to displease you. Now I request that 
you have pity on me and soften your anger, which greatly frightens 
me, and I swear to you and promise that I shall behave toward 
you in such a way that I shall never commit any fault, provided 
that you might wish to accord me what you cannot forbid me. 
Please grant only that I may love; I ask no other thing. If you 
grant this request I shall perform all your other wishes. Although 
you cannot prevent me, I shall not seek to trick you in this matter, 
for, since it suits me, I shall love no matter whom it may please 
or harm. But I would not, for my weight in silver, want you to be 

I found Resistance very difficult and slow to give over his bad 
humor. Still, I had spoken so well to him that, in the end, he 
pardoned me and said in a brief speech : 

u Y our request does not harm me in any way, and I don’t want to 
refuse you. Understand that I am not at all angry at you, and 
if you love, what does that matter to me? It leaves me neither 
warm nor cold. Love forever, as long as you are always far from 
my roses. I shall have no mercy on you if you ever pass through 
the hedge.” 

Thus he granted my request, and I went in haste to tell Friend, 
who, like a good companion, rejoiced when he heard the news. 
“Now,” he said, “your affair is going well. Resistance will be 
friendly toward you. After he has shown his arrogance, he does 
what many people wish. If you were to catch him in a good humor 
he would take pity on your suffering. Now you should endure and 
wait until you can catch him in a good state. I have well proved 
that one conquers and curbs the wicked by enduring.” 

Friend, who wanted my advancement as much as I did, com- 
forted me very tenderly. Thereupon I took leave of him and re- 
turned to the hedge that Resistance guarded, for I could not wait 
at least to see the rosebud, since I might have no other joy of it. 
Resistance took care often to see if I were indeed keeping my agree- 
ment with him, but I feared him so much that I had no desire to 

Involvement of Treason and Q as tie of Jealousy 77 

do wrong to him. In fact, to get acquainted with him and win 
him over, I took pains for a long time to perform his command, 
but it hindered me greatly that he withheld his grace for such a 
long time. Many times he saw me weep, lament, and sigh because 
he left me too long to shiver beside the hedge, for I dared not 
pass through to go to the rose. Certainly he saw by my behavior 
that Love ruled harshly over me and that in me there was neither 
dissimulation nor disloyalty, but he was so cruel that, however 
much he might hear me lament or complain, he did not yet deign 
to unbend. 

Just as I was in this distress, God led Openness to me, and Pity 
with her. Without any more delay, the two of them went straight 
to Resistance, for the one and the other wanted to help me will- 
^ they might, since they saw that there was need. Lady 
Openness — my thanks to her — spoke first and said: 

“Resistance, so help me God, you have wronged this lover, 
whom you have treated very badly. Know that you dishonor your- 
self, for I have never learned that he has wronged you in any 
way. If Love’s power makes him love, should you therefore blame 
him? He loses more thereby than you do, for he has endured many 
pains of love. But Love will not allow him to repent of it; even if 
someone were to spear him alive, he could not keep from loving. 
But, fair sir, how does it help you to inflict pain and torment on 
him? Have you declared war on him in order that he fear and 
honor you and be your subject? If Love holds him captive in his 
nets and makes him obey you, ought you therefore to hate him? 
You should rather have spared him sooner than a boastful rogue. 
It is an act of courtesy to come to the aid of him to whom one is 
superior. He who does not relent when he finds someone who 
makes a supplication to him has a very hard heart.” 

Pity spoke in turn: “It is true that harshness conquers humility, 
but it is a wicked crime for harshness to last too long. Therefore, 
Resistance, I want to request you not to continue your war against 
this captive who languishes there and who has never beguiled love. 
It is my opinion that you give him much more trouble than you 
should. From the time that you withdrew Fair Welcoming’s com- 
pany from him he has done too harsh a penance, for that is the 
thing that he most desires. He was troubled enough before, but 
now his grief is doubled; now that he lacks Fair Welcoming his 









78 The "Dream of J^ove 

lot is as bad as if he were dead. Why do you create any opposition 
to him? Love made him endure a great deal of woe, so much that 
even to please you, he wouldn’t need anything worse. Do not con- 
tinue to maltreat him, for you gain nothing by doing so. Allow 
Fair Welcoming to perform some act of mercy from now on. 
Have mercy on a sinner. Since Openness is of the same opinion 
and begs and urges you to pity him, do not refuse her request. 
He who will not do anything for the two of us is very cruel and 

Then Resistance could hold out no longer ; he had to moderate 
his stand. “Ladies,” he said, “I dare not refuse you this request, 
for to do so would be too great a villainy. Since it pleases you, I 
want him to have the company of Fair Welcoming; I will impose 
no barrier.” 

Openness, the eloquent one, went then to Fair Welcoming and 
courteously said to him, “Fair Welcoming, you are too far sepa- 
rated from this lover, whom you do not deign to look upon. Ever 
since you have not seen him, he has been pensive and sad. If you 
want to enjoy my love, consider being friendly toward him and 
doing what he wishes. Know that, between us, Pity and I have 
subdued Resistance, who exiled you from the lover.” 

“I shall do whatever you would like,” said Fair Welcoming, 
“for, since Resistance has granted it, it is right.” 

Then Openness sent him to me. To begin with, Fair Welcoming 
saluted me sweetly. If he had been angry toward me, he was none 
the worse for having been so; rather he showed me an appearance 
fairer than he had ever shown before. He took me by the hand 
then to lead me within the enclosure that Resistance had forbidden 
to me. Now I had leave to go everywhere; now I had fallen, as 
I thought, from deepest hell to paradise, for Fair Welcoming, 
troubling himself to do what pleased me, led me everywhere. 

As I approached the rose, I found it somewhat enlarged, and 
I saw that it had grown since the time when I had seen it from 
close up. It was a little enlarged at the top; and I was pleased 
that it was not so open that the seed was revealed. It was still 
enclosed within the rose leaves, which raised it straight up and 
filled the space within, so that the seed, with which the rose was 
full, could not appear. God bless it, it was much more beautifully 
open and redder than it had been before. I was amazed at the 

Involvement of Treason and Qastle of Jealousy 79 

marvel, and to the extent that it had grown more beautiful Love 
bound me more and more, and he always tightened his net more 
when I experienced more solace. 

I remained there for a long time, for in Fair Welcoming I found 
much love and companionship. When I saw that he forbade me 
neither his comfort nor his service, I requested of him a thing that 
it is good to mention: 

“Sir,” I said, “know for a truth that I yearn strongly to have a 
precious kiss of the rose that exhales this sweet perfume, and if it 
should not displease you, I would request it of you as a gift. For 
God’s sake sir, tell me then if it please you that I kiss it, for I 
could never do so unless it was pleasing to you.” 

“Friend,” he said, “God help me, if Chastity did not hate me, I 
would never forbid you; but because of Chastity, toward whom 
I do not want to misbehave, I dare not let you. It is her constant 
custom to forbid me to give permission for a kiss to any lover who 
begs me for one, for he who can attain to a kiss can hardly remain 
at that point. Know well that he to whom one grants a kiss has 
the best, most pleasing part of his prize, along with a pledge for 
the rest.” 

When I heard him reply thus, I no longer wanted to beg him 
for the kiss, for I feared to anger him. One should not pursue a 
man beyond his welcome nor trouble him too much. You know very 
well that one doesn’t cut down an oak tree at the first blow, any 
more than one gets wine from the wine-grapes before the press is 
squeezed. The boon of the kiss that I always desired was always 
delayed, but Venus, who wages continual war on Chastity, came to 
my rescue. She is the mother of the God of Love, who has rescued 
many a lover. In her right hand she held a blazing torch, whose 
flame has warmed many a lady. She was so quaint and so beau- 
tifully adorned that she looked like a goddess or a fairy. Whoever 
saw her could recognize from her splendid adornment that she 
was not a religious. I shall not now mention her dress, her hand- 
kerchief, the gold lace on her hair, her buckle or her belt, for I 
should delay too long; but you may know that she was very elegant 
but without a trace of pride. Venus drew near to Fair Welcoming 
and then started speaking to him: 

“Why, fair sir, do you make such resistance to this lover’s having 
a sweet kiss? It should not be forbidden him, for you know well 








A? .. 


80 The T>ream of J^ove 

and see that he serves and loves loyally and that he is beautiful 
enough to be worthy of being loved in return. See how graceful 
he is, how handsome, how pleasant, sweet, and open toward all 
men. Moreover, he is not old but rather a child, and therefore 
worth more. There is no lady, no chatelaine whom I should not 
consider base if she were to make any resistance to him. His heart 
will not change if you grant him the kiss. A kiss would be very 
well used on him, since, believe it, he has very sweet breath; his 
mouth is not ugly but seems to be made on purpose for solace and 
diversion, for the lips are red and the teeth white and so clean 
that there is neither tartar nor filth on them. In my opinion, it 
would be very reasonble to accord him a kiss. If you believe me, 
give it to him, for you know that the longer you wait the more 
time you will lose.” 

Fair Welcoming, who felt the breath of Venus’s torch, gave me 
a gift of a kiss with no more delay. Venus and her torch had done 
so much that I had no longer to wait, but straightway took a sweet 
and delicious kiss from the rose. No one need ask if I was joyful, 
for into my heart there entered an odor that drove out my sorrow 
and sweetened the woes of love that had long been so bitter. I had 
never been so comforted. He who kisses a flower so pleasant, so 
very fragrant, is quickly cured. I shall never be so sorrowful that 
I may not be filled with delight and joy if I remember it. Even so, 
I have suffered many troubles and many bad nights since I kissed 
the rose. The sea will never be so calm that it may not be a little 
troubled by the wind. Love changes often: one hour he soothes, 
another pierces; he is rarely in the same situation. 

From now on it is right for me to tell you how I struggled 
with Shame, who gave me a lot of trouble afterward, and how the 
walls were raised and how there rose the rich and powerful castle 
that Love seized later through his efforts. I want to pursue the 
whole history, and I shall never be idle in writing it down as 
long as I believe that it may please the beautiful lady — may God 
be her cure — who better than any other shall, when she wishes, 
give me the reward. 

■s, Foul Mouth, who thinks out and divines the plans of many 
lovers and who recounts all the evil that he knows, watched out 
for the fair reception that Fair Welcoming deigned to give me. 
At length he could not keep silent, since he was the son of an 

Involvement of Treason and Qastle of Jealousy 8 i 

angry old woman and had a tongue that was exceedingly sharp, 
piercing, and bitter. In this respect he resembled his mother very 
much. From that time he began to accuse me and said that he 
would wager his eye that there was an evil relationship between 
me and Fair Welcoming. The glutton spoke so wildly about me 
and Courtesy’s son that he awoke Jealousy, who rose up in fright 
when she heard the scandalmonger. When she had arisen, she 
ran as if mad toward Fair Welcoming, who would have preferred 
to be at Etampes or Meaux, and then attacked him in this speech : 

“Worthless wretch, why have you taken leave of your senses to 3536 
become the friend of a boy of whom I suspect evil? It is very 
apparent that you easily believe the flatteries of strange young 
nobodies. I will no longer trust you. Indeed, I shall have you 
bound or shut up close in a tower, for I see no other solution. 

Shame is too far removed from you, and she has not exerted her- 
self much in guarding you and in holding you up short. It is my 
opinion that she gave very bad help to Chastity ; she allowed a 
misguided wretch to come into our enclosure in order to dishonor 
both me and Chastity.” 

Fair Welcoming did not know what to reply. He would rather 3553 
have gone to hide if she had not found him there and caught him 
with me and with full proof. But when I saw this contentious 
woman come, who argued and struggled against us, I straightway 
turned and fled from the dispute, which vexed me. 

Shame, who was very afraid that she had done wrong, then 3561 
drew forward. She was humble and simple, and instead of a wimple 
she wore a cloth like that of a nun in an abbey. Because she was 
stupefied, she began to speak in a low voice: 

“For God’s sake, lady, do not believe Foul Mouth the scandal- 3568 
bearer j he is a man who lies easily and who has tricked many a 
worthy man. Fair Welcoming is not the first that he has accused. 

Foul Mouth is indeed in the habit of telling false tales about 
young men and young ladies. Without fail, and it is no lie, Fair 
Welcoming has too long a tether and has been allowed to attract 
men of a kind he has no business with, but certainly I do not 
believe that he had any intention of wickedness or folly. But it is 
true that his mother Courtesy, since she never loved a stupid man, 
taught him not to hesitate to become acquainted with people. You 
may know that Fair Welcoming has no other fault, no other secret 

82 The Dream of J^ove 

design than that he is full of enjoyment and that he plays and 
speaks with people. Without fail, I have been too soft in watching 
over him and punishing him, and I therefore want to beg your 
mercy. If I have been a little too slow to do good, I am sorry for 
it and I repent of my folly. But from now on I shall put my 
whole thought on guarding Fair Welcoming ; I shall never seek 
to avoid this task.” 

3601 “Shame, Shame,” said Jealousy, “I am very afraid of being 
betrayed, for Lechery has risen so high that all could be brought 
to shame. It is no wonder that I fear; for Lechery reigns every- 
where: her powers never cease growing; Chastity is not safe even 
in abbey or cloister. Therefore I shall build a wall again to enclose 
the rosebushes and roses. I shall not leave them thus revealed; I 
put little trust in your guardianship, for I see very well and know 
for certain that one might lose out with even a better guard. I 
would never see a year pass when people would not consider me 
stupid if I were not to take care. I must look after this business. 
Certainly I shall close off the way of access to those who come to 
spy out my roses in order to trick me. I shall never be idle in 
making a fortress that will enclose the roses all around. In the 
middle it will have a tower where Fair Welcoming will be im- 
prisoned, for I fear treason. I plan to guard his body so well that 
he will not have the power to go outside nor to keep company 
with rascal boys who, in order to bring him to shame, go around 
flattering him with pretty speeches. These vagrants have too much 
found him a fool, a stupid shepherd easy to deceive. But, as I live, 
he may know as truth that it was an unhappy day when he ever 
turned a pleasant face toward them.” 

3638 With this word, Fear came trembling; she was so thunderstruck 
when she heard Jealousy that, knowing Jealousy’s anger, she never 
dared say a word. She drew off behind, to one side, and straight- 
way Jealousy withdrew and left Fear and Shame together. The 
whole slack of their rumps trembled. Fear, her head bent, spoke to 
her cousin Shame: 

3649 “Shame,” she said, “it weighs on me that we must hear this con- 
tention over a matter in which we can do nothing. April and 
May have passed many times, and we have never been blamed ; but 
now Jealousy, who mistrusts us, vilifies and despises us. Let us go 

Involvement of Treason and Qastle of Jealousy 83 

now to Resistance ; let us tell him and show him well that he com- 
mitted a great wrong in not taking greater trouble to guard this 
enclosure well. He allowed Fair Welcoming too much to do openly 
what he liked, and now he will have to mend his ways or — may he 
know it well and truly — he will have to flee from the earth, since 
he would not last out a war or quarrel with Jealousy if she con- 
ceived a hatred for him.” 

They confirmed this counsel and then came to Resistance. They 
found the peasant lying beneath a hawthorn. Instead of a pillow, 
he had, at his head, a large heap of grass, and he was beginning 
to sleep, but Shame awoke him and, as she stood over him, ran on 
with her abuse: 

“How can you sleep at a time like this,” she said, “with all 
this misfortune? Anyone is a fool to trust you, any more than a 
sheep’s tail, to guard a rose or a rosebud. You are too lazy and 
idle j you should have been fierce and treated everyone brutally. 
It was madness that made you allow Fair Welcoming to introduce 
within the enclosure a man who could bring blame upon us. When 
you sleep, we, who can do nothing about it, hear all the contention. 
Have you been lying down now? Get up immediately and stop up 
all the holes in this hedge 5 be kind to no man. It doesn’t agree 
with your name for you to do anything but make trouble. If Fair 
Welcoming is open and sweet, you are to be cruel and violent, full 
of offensive words that wound. I have heard it said in a proverb 
that a courtly boor talks nonsense, and that one can in no way make 
a sparrow hawk out of a buzzard. All those whom you have found 
agreeable consider you a simpleton. Do you want then just to be 
agreeable to people, to do good and serve them? Such an attitude 
inspires you with laziness, and everywhere you will have the glori- 
ous reputation of one who is weak and soft and who believes in 
those who bring pretty speeches.” 

Then Fear spoke afterward: “Certainly, Resistance, I marvel 
greatly that you are not wide awake to guard what you should. 
You could soon suffer if Jealousy’s wrath grew, for she is very 
proud, very cruel, and disposed to quarrel. Today she saw Shame 
attacked, and, by her threats, has driven Fair Welcoming out of 
this place and sworn that he cannot remain without being walled in 
alive. All this has happened because of your wickedness, since there 




84 T*he 'Dream of Jfjove 

is not a trace of rigor in you; I believe that you lack heart. But, 
if ever Jealousy knew, you would be in a bad state of pain and 

3731 Then the knave lifted his hood, rubbed his eyes, shook himself, 
puckered his nose, and rolled his eyes; he was full of wrath and 
anger when he heard himself thus abused. 

3736 “I could go mad with rage now,” he said, “when you consider 
me overcome. Certainly I have now lived too long if I cannot 
guard this enclosure. Let me be spitted alive if any man living 
ever enters here. My heart is angered from my belly that any man 
ever put his feet there; I would rather have had two lances thrust 
through my body. I acted like a fool — I recall it well — but now, 
with the two of you, I shall amend my fault. I shall never be 
lazy in defending this enclosure, and if I can capture anyone there 
within, he would be better off at Pavia. I swear to you and promise 
that never, on any day of my life, will you consider me neglectful 
of duty.” 

3755 Then Resistance drew himself up on his feet and put on the 
appearance of being enraged. In his hand he took a stick and went 
looking around the enclosure to see if he would find a path, trace, 
or hole that required stopping up. From now on the situation is 
very much changed, for Resistance becomes more cruel than he was 
before. The one who thus enraged him has made me die, for I shall 
never have the chance to see what I want. My heart is angered from 
my belly that I have offended Fair Welcoming. Know well, too, 
that all my limbs tremble when I remember the rose that I used 
to see nearby when I wished; and when I recall this kiss that 
placed in my heart an odor sweeter than balm, I almost swoon, for 
I still have the sweet taste of the rose enclosed in my heart. And 
know that when I remember that I must be separated from it, I 

3782 would rather be dead than alive. It was an evil hour when I 
touched the rose to my face, my eyes, and my mouth, if Love 
does not allow me to touch it again for another time. Now that I 
have tried its taste, the covetousness that inflames and excites my 
heart has grown much greater. Now weeping and sighing will re- 
turn, with long, sleepless thoughts, shivers, pangs, and lamenta- 
tions. I will have many such sorrows, for I have fallen into hell. 
Cursed be Foul Mouth! It was his disloyal and false tongue that 
bought me this sauce. 

Involvement of Treason and Qastle of Jealousy 85 

From now on it is time for me to tell you of the activities of 3797 
Jealousy, with her foul suspicion. There remained no mason or 
ditcher in the country that she had not sent for, and, for a begin- 
ning, she had them construct ditches around the rosebushes. They 
would cost a great deal of silver, for they were very wide and 
deep. Above this moat the masons built a wall of cut stone, not 
seated on shifting soil but founded on hard rock. This foundation, 
all in suitable dimensions, went down to the foot of the moat and 
grew narrower as it rose, so that the construction was very strong. 

The wall was so regularly made that it formed a perfect square ; 
each side extended a hundred fathoms, so that the whole was as 
long as it was broad. The turrets, side by side, were richly crenel- 
lated and made of squared stone. There were four at the four 
corners, very difficult to knock down, and again at the four gates, 
where the wall was thick and high. There was one gate before 
the front, necessarily capable of easy defense, nor did the two at the 
sides or the one behind need to fear any stones from a catapult. 

There were fine doors that could slide up and down, to the sorrow 
of those outside, for if they dared venture too close, they could be 
captured and held by these doors. 

Within, in the middle of the enclosure, the master-builders con- 3833 
structed a tower with great skill. There could not be a more 
beautiful one, for it was large and broad and tall. The walls should 
not give way to any machine for throwing missiles, for the mortar 
was made of quicklime soaked in strong vinegar. The stone from 
which they made the foundation was the native rock, as hard as 
diamond. The tower was completely round; in all the world was 
none so rich or better arranged within. Outside, it was surrounded 
by a bailey that went right around so that between this wall and 
the tower the rosebushes, bearing quantities of roses, were planted 
thick. Within the castle were catapults and machines of many 
sorts. You could have seen the mangonels above the crenels, and 
at the apertures all around were arbalests that were stretched by 
means of a screw jack and that no armor could withstand. Anyone 
who wanted to approach the walls could only commit a stupidity. 
Outside of the moat there was an enclosure of good strong walls, 
with low embrasures, so that horses could not, at the first onset, 
reach the moat without a battle beforehand. 

Jealousy had placed a garrison in the castle that I am describing 3867 


The Dream of J^ove 




to you. It seemed to me that Resistance carried the key of the 
first gate, which opened toward the east, and, to my knowledge, 
there was a total count of thirty followers with him. Shame guarded 
the second gate, the one opening to the south. She was very wise, 
and I tell you that she had a great plenty of followers ready to do 
her will. Fear also had a large troop and was stationed to guard 
the third gate, which was placed on the left hand, toward the 
north. Fear will never be secure unless she is locked in, and she 
seldom opens the door, for, when she hears the wind moan or 
sees two grasshoppers jump, she is seized by panic on such occasions. 
Foul Mouth — God curse him — had soldiers from Normandy and 
guarded the door behind. Know, too, that he came and went, 
when it suited him, at the other three gates, since he had to be on 
the look-out at night. In the evening he would mount up to the 
crenels and make his pipes, his trumpets, and his horns resound. 
At one time he would play lays and discords and improvisations 
on the Cornish pipes ; at another he would sing, to a flute accom- 
paniment, that he never found a true woman. 

“There is no woman who does not smile with delight when she 
hears talk of lechery. This one’s a whore, that one paints herself, 
and another looks around as if she were crazy. One is vulgar, 
another mad, and a third talks too much.” Foul Mouth, who spares 
nothing, found some fault in every woman. 

Jealousy (God confound her! ) garrisoned the round tower, and 
you may know that she placed there her closest friends until there 
was a large troop. And Fair Welcoming was in prison, locked up 
above in the tower, with the door so well barred that he had no 
possibility of coming out. With him there was an old woman — God 
shame her — to watch him; she had no other occupation except 
solely to spy and see that he did not conduct himself outrageously. 
No one could have tricked her, by sign or appearance, for there was 
no fraud that she did not know. In her youth she had indeed had 
her share of the blessings and the griefs that Love dispenses to 
his servants. Fair Welcoming kept quiet and listened, for he feared 
the old woman and was not so bold as to make a move, so that she 
might not perceive any foolish look on his face; she knew the 
whole of the old dance. 

As soon as Jealousy had seized Fair Welcoming and walled him 
up, she considered herself secure. Her castle, which she saw was 

Involvement of Treason and Q as tie of Jealousy 87 

very strong, gave her great comfort. She had no reason to fear 
that gluttons might steal roses or buds: the bushes were too strongly 
enclosed, and, waking or sleeping, she could be very secure. 

But I, outside the wall, was given over to sorrow and woe. If 3948 
anyone knew the life I led, he would have to take great pity 
upon it. Love now knew how to sell me the benefits that he had 
loaned me. I thought that I had bought them, but now he sold 
them all to me again, for I was in greater trouble, on account of 
the joy that I had lost, than if I had never had it. Why should I go on 
telling you? I was like the peasant who casts his seed on the earth 
and rejoices when it begins to be fair and thick when it is in the 
blade ; but before he collects a sheaf of it, the weather worsens and 
an evil cloud arises at the time when the ears should sprout and 
damages it by making the seed die within and robs the wretch of the 
hope that he had had too soon. I too feared that I had lost my 
hope and my expectation, for Love had advanced me so far that I 
had already begun to tell my greatest intimacies to Fair Welcom- 
ing, who was prepared to accept my advances. But Love is so >■* 
changeable that he robbed me of everything at once, when I 
thought that I had won. It is just as with Fortune, who puts dis- 
content into the hearts of men but at other times caresses and flat- 
ters them. Her appearance changes in a short time: one hour she 
smiles, at another she is sad. She has a wheel that turns, and when 
she wishes she raises the lowest up to the summit, and with a turn 
plunges him who was on top of the wheel into the mud. And I am 3991 
the one who is so turned. It was an evil time when I saw the walls 
and the moat that I neither dare nor can pass. Since Fair Welcoming 
has been put in prison, I have no blessings or joy whatever, for 
my joy and my remedy lies wholly in him and in the rose that is 
enclosed within the walls, and he must come forth from his prison 
if Love ever wants me to be cured, for I shall never seek else- 
where to have honors or blessings, health or joy. Ah, Fair Wel- 
coming, fair sweet friend, even if you have been put into prison, 
keep me at least in your heart! Do not, at any price, allow Jealousy 
the Savage to put your heart in servitude as she has done your 
body. If she punishes you on the outside, keep a heart of adamant 
within to oppose her correction. If your body stays in prison, watch 
at least that your heart loves me. A free heart does not stop loving 
because of blows or mistreatment. If Jealousy is hard toward you 

88 The "Dream of J^ove 


and causes you harm and injury, be just as hard toward her 5 and 
take revenge, at least in thought when you cannot do otherwise, 
for the opposition that she shows to you. If you were to do so, I 
should consider myself well repaid ; but I am in very great anxiety 
that you may not do so, for perhaps, because you have been put in 
prison on my account, you will not feel grateful to me. However, 
this situation does not exist because of any wrong that I may have 
committed toward you, for I never mentioned anything that should 
have been kept hidden. Indeed, God help me, this misfortune 
weighs more heavily on me than on you, for I suffer penance 
greater than anyone could tell. I almost melt with anger when I 
remember my loss, which is very great and apparent. And I think 
that my fear and my pain will bring me my death. Should I not 
indeed be fearful when I know that slanderers and envious traitors 
are eager to injure me? Ah! Fair Welcoming, I know in truth 
that they hope to deceive you and to influence you with their fables 
so that they may take you in tow on their line ; and perhaps they 
have done so. I do not know now how things are going, but I am 
terribly afraid that you may have forgotten me, and I am in sor- 
row and pain. If I lose your good will, there will never be any 
comfort for me, since I have no ties of faith elsewhere. 



<SR,ea son 



AND perhaps I have lost it; I am ready to despair of it. Despair! 
Alas! I shall not do so. I shall never despair of it, for if Hope were 
to fail me, I should lack valor. I ought to comfort myself with the 
thought that Love has told me, in order that I might the better 
bear my ills, that Hope would be my surety and would go with me 
everywhere. But what about this situation? What shall I do about 
it? Even though Hope is courteous and kindly disposed, she is 
still not certain in anything. She puts lovers into great distress 
and becomes their lady and mistress. With her promise, she de- 
ceives many of love, for she often makes promises which she will 
never keep. Here is the danger, God help me, for she keeps and 
will keep in torment many good lovers who will never arrive at 
their goals. No one knows what to hold to since he doesn’t know 
what will happen, and thus he who draws too near to Hope is a 
fool. For when she constructs a good syllogism, one must be in 
great fear lest she draw the worse conclusion; we have sometimes 
seen many who have been deceived by her. At the same time she 
would wish that he who takes her side would have the better con- 
clusion to the disputation; and I am a fool if I dare blame her. 
Moreover, what is her good will worth to me is she doesn’t help me 
out of my torment? Too little, since she can give no counsel except 
a promise. Promise without gift is worth little, and Hope leaves me 
possessed of so many contraries that no one can know their num- 
ber. Resistance, Shame, and Fear encumber me, and Jealousy and 
Foul Mouth (he poisons and taints all those with whom he has to 
do and by his tongue delivers them to martyrdom). All these have 
Fair Welcoming in prison, whom I take into all my thoughts; and I 
know that if I cannot have him, in a short time I shall no longer be 
alive. Above all, that dirty, stinking, foul old woman, who has to 
guard him so close that he dares look on no one, is making me 
waste away. 

From now on my sorrow will strengthen. Certainly it is true 



92 The Overthrow of Treason 

that the God of Love by his grace gave me three gifts, but I lose 
them here: Sweet Thought, who helps me not at all ^ Sweet Talk, 
whose aid has also failed me; the third, named Sweet Looks, I 
have, God keep me, lost as well. Certainly they are fine gifts, but 
they will never be worth anything if Fair Welcoming does not 
come forth from the prison where he is being held unjustly. In my 
opinion, I shall die for him, since, believe me, he will never escape 
from there alive. 

4127 Escape? Certainly not. By what force could we ever break out of 
such a fortress? It will certainly never come about through my 
efforts. Nor, believe me, did I show a grain of sense, but rather 
folly and madness, when I gave homage to the God of Love. It 
was Lady Idleness who made me do so. Shame to her and to her 
busybodying for giving in to my plea for shelter in the lovely 
garden; if she had known anything good, she would never have 
believed me. One should not believe a foolish man to the value 
even of an apple; he should be condemned and reproved before 
one allows him to commit folly. I was just such a fool, and she 
believed me. But she never believed me for any good. She brought 
about my desires too well, and now I must lament and sorrow. 
Reason warned me well of this situation. I may count myself as 
bereft of reason when from that time I neither renounced love nor 
trusted Reason’s advice. 

4151 Reason was right to blame me for ever setting out to love. It is 
fitting that I should feel these burdensome woes, and, believe me, 
I want to repent. Repent? Alas! What would I be doing? I should 
be a false, shameful traitor. The devil would indeed have attacked 
me: I would have betrayed my lord, and Fair Welcoming as well. 
Should he have my hatred if, to do me a courtesy, he languishes 
in the tower of Jealousy? Has he done me a courtesy? Indeed, one 
so great that no one could have believed it when he wanted me 
to trespass beyond the hedge and kiss the rose. I should not give 
him ill thanks for that courtesy, nor truly shall I ever do so. 
Never, please God, shall I utter complaints or cries against the 
God of Love, nor against Fair Welcoming or Hope, or against 
Idleness, who has been so gracious toward me, for it would be 
wrong of me to complain of their beneficence. 

So there is nothing to do but suffer and offer my body to martyr- 
dom and wait in good hope until Love sends me solace. I must 


' Discourse of Treason 93 

wait for his mercy, for he said to me, I well remember: “I shall 
take your service in grace and exalt you to a high place, as long as 
evil does not put you down again. But perhaps your advancement 
will not come about quickly.” This was his whole speech, word for 
word. It is very clear that he loved me tenderly. Therefore I have 
only to serve well if I wish to merit his grace ; any fault could lie 
only in me, not in the God of Love, for indeed a god is never 
deficient in any respect. The fault then lies certainly in me, and I 
do not know where it comes from, nor, perhaps, shall I ever know. 

So let things go as they can, let the God of Love do as he wishes, 
whether it be to let me escape, to go on farther, or, if he wishes, 
to let me die. I shall never come to the end of my task, and I shall 
die if either I or another for me do not finish it. But if Love, who 
grieves me sorely, wished to finish it for me, no trouble that I 
encountered in his service could daunt me. Now may all go accord- 
ing to his design. Let him turn his thought toward my affair if 
he wishes; I can no longer undertake it alone. But whatever 
happens, I pray that after my death he remember Fair Welcoming 
who, without doing harm to me, has killed me. In any case, to 
divert him, and since I cannot bear the burden of his misfortune, 
I make my confession to you before I die, O Love, as do all 
loyal lovers, and I wish to make my testament here: at my de- 
parture I leave my heart to Fair Welcoming ; I have no other goods 
to bequeath. 

While I raved thus about the great sorrows I was suffering, 
not knowing where to seek a remedy for my grief and wrath, I 
saw fair Reason coming straight back to me; as she descended 
from her tower she heard my complaints. 

“Fair friend,” said Reason the fair, “how does your dispute 
progress? Will you ever be tired of loving? Have you not had 
enough suffering? How do the woes of love seem to you now? 
Are they too sweet or too bitter? Do you know how to choose the 
mean among them, the mean which can give you aid and suffi- 
ciency? Have you chosen a good lord, this one who has thus cap- 
tured and subjugated you and who torments you without respite? 
The day you ever swore homage to him was an unhappy one for 
you; you were a fool when you set out on this affair. But un- 
doubtedly you do not know about the lord with whom you are deal- 
ing; for if you knew him well you would never have become his man, 




94 The Overthrow of Treason 

or if you had become, you would not have served him for a sum- 
mer, nor for a day, nor for an hour, but without delay, I think, 
you would have renounced your homage to him and would never 
have loved far amour . Do you really know him at all?” 

4253 a Yes, lady.” 

“You do not.” 

“Yes, I do.” 

“How? By your soul?” 

“Because he said to me, ‘You should be very joyful since you 
have such a good master and a lord of so great renown/ ” 

4258 “Do you know him any further?” 

“No, except that he gave me his commandments, then flew away 
quicker than an eagle while I remained in peril.” 

4262 “Indeed that’s a poor acquaintance; but now I want you to 
understand him. You have drunk so much bitterness that your out- 
look is distorted. No unhappy wretch can support a greater load. It is 
a good thing to know one’s lord; if you knew this God of Love 
well, you could escape easily from the prison where you are thus 
wasting away.” 

4272 “Truly, lady, since he is my sire and I his liege man wholly, 
my heart would listen willingly and would learn more if there were 
someone who could teach it.” 

4277 “By my head, I want to teach you, since your heart wants to 
hear. Now I shall show you without fable what is not demonstrable. 
You shall know straightway without knowledge and understand 
without understanding what can never be better known, demon- 
strated, or understood by any man who fixes his heart on love; but 
one will not suffer the less on account of this knowledge unless he 
is the sort that may wish to flee from love. Then I will have 
untied for you the knot that you will always find tied. Now give 
me your attention; here is the description of love. 

4293 “Love is hateful peace and loving hate. It is disloyal loyalty 
and loyal disloyalty, fear that is completely confident and despair- 
ing hope. It is reason gone mad and reasonable madness, the sweet 
danger of drowning, a heavy burden easily handled. It is the 
treacherous Charybdis, repellent but attractive. It is a healthful 
languor and diseased health, a hunger satiated in the midst of 
abundance, a sufficiency always covetous. It is the thirst that is 
always drunk, a drunkenness intoxicated by its own thirst. False 

Discourse of Treason 95 

delight, joyous sorrow, enraged happiness, sweet ill, malicious 
^sweetness, and a foul-smelling sweet perfume, love is a^in pouched 
by pardon but a pardon stained by sin. It is suffering which is too 
joyous, a piteous cruelty, a movement without any certainty, a 
state of rest both too fixed and too movable. It is a spineless force, 
a strong weakness that moves all by its efforts. It is foolish sense, 
wise folly, a prosperity both sad and pleasant. It is the laugh filled 
with tears and weeping, and the repose always occupied by labor. 
Sweet hell and heaven of sorrow, it is the prison which solaces cap- 
tivity. It is the springtime full of cold winter, the moth that refuses 
nothing but consumes everything from purple robes to homespun, 
for lovers are as good beneath coarse clothing as under fine. 

“There is no one, however high his lineage nor however wise he 
may be found, of such proved strength, bravery, or other good 
qualities, who may not be subjugated by the God of Love. The 
whole world travels that road. He is the god who turns them all 
from their road, if they are not those of genuinely evil life whom 
Genius excommunicates because they commit wrongs against 
Nature. However, since I have nothing to do with these, I do not 
wish people to love with that love by which at the end they pro- 
claim themselves unhappy and sorrowful wretches because the God 
of Love goes about making fools of them. But if indeed you wish 
to win through to the point where the God of Love will be unable 
to harm you, and to be cured of that madness, you can drink nothing 
better than the thought of fleeing from him. You can become happy 
in no other way. If you follow him, he will follow you; if you 
flee, he will flee.” 

But Reason argued in vain, for when I had heard her through 1 
I replied: “Lady, I flatter myself that I know no more than before 
of how I can extricate myself from love. There are so many con- 
traries in this lesson that I can learn nothing from it; and yet 
I can repeat it well by heart, for my heart never forgot any of it; 
indeed, I can make a public lecture of the whole thing, but to me 
alone it means nothing. But since you have described love to me, 
and have praised and blamed it so much, I beg you to define it in 
such a way that I may better remember it, for I have never heard 
it defined.” 

“Willingly,” she replied. “Now listen carefully. Love, if I think 
right, is a sickness of thought that takes place between two persons 







9 6 The Overthrow of Treason 

of different sex when they are in close proximity and open to 
each other. It arises among people from the burning desire, born 
of disordinate glances, to embrace and kiss each other and to have 
the solace of one another’s body. A lover so burns and is so en- 
raptured that he thinks of nothing else* he takes no account of 
bearing fruit, but strives only for delight. 

“There are those of a certain kind who do not hold this love 
dear, but who always pretend to be pure lovers and do not deign 
to love far amour \ thus they deceive ladies by promising them their 
hearts and souls and by swearing lies and fables to those whom 
they find gullible, until they have taken their pleasure with them. 
But such people are less deceived than the others; for it is always 
better, good master, to deceive than to be deceived, particularly 
in this battle, when one never knows where to seek the mean. 

“But I know very well without divination that whoever lies 
with a woman ought to wish with all his might to continue his 
divine self and to maintain himself in his likeness in order that 
the succession of generations might never fail, since all such like- 
nesses are subject to decay. Nature wills, since father and mother 
disappear, that children rise up to continue the work of generation, 
and that one’s life may be regained by means of another. For this 
purpose Nature has implanted delight in man because she wants 
the workman to take pleasure in his task in order that he might 
neither flee from it nor hate it, for there are many who would 
never make a move toward it if there were no delight to attract 
them. Thus Nature uses this subtle means of gaining her end. 

“Now understand that no one who desires only his pleasure 
in love travels the right road or has a right intention. Do you 
know what they do who go seeking delight? They give themselves 
up, like serfs or foolish wretches, to the prince of all vices; to seek 
delight is the root of all evil, as Tully concludes in the book that 
he wrote On Old Age, which he praises and desires more than 

“Youth pushes men and women into all sorts of danger to body 
and soul; it is too powerful a thing to pass through without dying 
or breaking a limb, or without bringing shame or harm to oneself 
or one’s family. Man passes his youth in every dissolution, follows 
evil company and disordinate lives, and often changes his goal. 
He may go into some convent because he does not know how to 

Discourse of Treason 97 

keep the freedom which Nature has endowed him with 5 he thinks 
that he can pluck the crane from the sky when he mews himself up 
there and remains until he is professed. Or again, he may feel the 
burden too heavy. If so, he may repent of his vows and leave the 
convent, or perhaps he may finish out his life there because he dare 
not return, and, held by shame, he may remain against his heart’s 
desire. He will live in great discomfort and bewail the liberty 
that he has lost and that cannot be returned to him unless God 
grant him the grace to relieve his discomfort and keep him in a state 
of obedience through the virtue of patience. Youth pushes men into 
folly, debauchery, ribaldry, lechery, excesses, and fickle changes of 
heart; it creates situations so complex that they are scarcely ever 
untangled. Into such perils does Youth put those who turn their 
hearts to Delight. Delight thus ensnares and directs both the body 
and the mind of man by means of his chambermaid, Youth, who 
habitually does evil and attracts men to delight; she seeks to do no 
other task. 

“But Age takes men away from Delight. Let whoever does not 
know this either learn it here, or ask it of the old whom Youth 
has held in her grasp. They will still recall enough of the many 
great perils which they have passed through and the follies that 
they have committed. When Old Age, their good companion on 
their journey, has taken from them the forces which ruled them 

in youth and the willful follies by ""HI ll lln j lmliil 11 illj L 

tempted, she leads them back to the right path and guides them 
right up to the end of their course. But her favors are badly em- 
ployed, since no one loves her or values her, at least, I know, 
not to the extent where he would wish to have old age for himself. 
No one wants to grow old, nor does Youth want to finish her life. 
So the old are amazed and marvel when their memories awaken 
and, as they must, they remember their follies and how they did 
this or that without any shame or remorse. Or if they did feel 
any shame or hurt, they wonder how they may escape such perils 
without worse consequences for their souls, their bodies, or their 

“Now do you know where Youth lives, so esteemed by many 
men and women? As soon as she arrives at the proper age, Delight 
takes her into his household and wants her to serve him. She 
would be his servant even for nothing and does so so willingly 



45 1 7 



98 The Overthrow of Treason 

that she follows all his paths, abandons her body to him, and 
would not wish to live without him. 

“And do you know where Age lives? I want to tell you without 
delay, for you must go there, if during your youth Death does not 
make you descend into his dark, sombre cave. Labor and Suffering 
give Age a dwelling place, but they chain her and put her in irons 
and so beat her and torment her, so make her feel their flails, 
that they present her with the prospect of approaching death and 
the desire for repentence. Then, with this long-delayed thought, 
when she sees herself feeble and white with age, it comes to her 
memory that Youth, who plunged her whole past into vanity, has 
deceived her badly and that she will have wasted her life if she 
is not saved by the future, which may sustain her in her penitence 
for the sins that she committed in her youth, and which, through 
its good influence in the midst of this suffering, may lead her back 
to the sovereign good from which Youth severed her when she 
was drowned in vanities. The present lasts so short a time for 
her that it cannot be counted or measured. 

“But however the matter may go, whoever wants to enjoy love, 
without fail, man or woman, whether lady or girl, should seek its 
fruit, although they should not deny their share of delight. But 
I know that there are a lot of these women who don’t want to be- 
come pregnant, and, when they become so, they are very cha- 
grined and utter no complaint nor show any sign of distress except 
something silly or stupid when Shame has no control whatever over 

“Briefly then, everyone who gives himself over to the work of 
love turns only to Delight, except for those worthless ones who, 
corrupted by their filthy lives, are not bound by any laws and basely 
give themselves for money. Certainly there would never be a 
good woman who would abandon herself to take gifts. No man 
should ever take to himself a woman who wants to sell her flesh. 
Does he think that any woman who wants to flay her living body 
will hold it dear? A man so vilely tricked is indeed a wretch led 
astray when he believes that such a woman loves him just because 
she calls him her lover, smiles at him, and makes much of him. 
Certainly no such animal ought to be called friend or lover, nor is 
she worth being loved. A woman who seeks to despoil a man 
should be valued at nothing. I do not say that she may not, for 

‘ Discourse of Treason gg 

pleasure and solace, wear an ornament given or sent by her friend, 
but she must not ask for it, since she would then be taking it 
ba'sely' in return she should give him something of hers if she 
^alYfTTo™ acTfcKffielessIJT In this way their hearts join together, 
they love each other and pledge themselves by their gifts. Don’t 4589 
think that I would separate them; I want them to unite and do 
whatever they ought that is courteous and well behaved, but I want 
them to keep themselves from that foolish love which inflames 
hearts and makes them burn with desire. I want their love to be 
free of that covetousness that excites false hearts to grasp. Good 
love should be born of a pure heart; love should not be mastered 
by gifts any more than by bodily pleasures. 

“But the love which holds you in its bonds gives you the prospect 4600 
of carnal delight so that your intention runs nowhere but upon 
wishing to have the rose; you dream of no other possession. But 
you are not within two fingers’ length of having it, and that is 
what is making your skin waste away, what takes away all your 
strength. When you took in the God of Love you received a bur- 
densome guest; you have an evil guest in your inn. Therefore I 
advise you to eject him lest he rob you of all the thoughts which 
should turn to your profit; don’t let him dwell there any longer. 

Hearts drunk with love are too much given over to misguided 
acts. You will know this at the end when you have lost your time 
and wasted your youth in this sorry pleasure. If you can live long 
enough to see yourself delivered from love, you will bewail the 
time you have lost, but you will never be able to recover it, if 
indeed you escape that far, for, in that love where you are caught, 
many, I dare say, lose their sense, their time, possessions, bodies, 
souls, and reputations.” 

Thus Reason preached to me. But Love prevented anything from 4629 
being put into practice, although I heard the whole matter word 
for word, for Love drew me strongly and hunted through all my 
thoughts like a hunter whose course lies everywhere. He kept my 
heart constantly under his wing, and when I was seated for the ser- 
mon, he kept watch over me, outside of my head, with a shovel. 
Whenever Reason cast a word into one ear, he threw one into the 
other, with the result that she wasted all her efforts and only 
filled me with anger and wrath. Then, filled with ire, I said to her: 

“Lady, you wish to betray me. Should I now hate people? 4645 




ioo The Overthrow of Treason 

Shall I despise everyone? If love were not good, I would never 
love with refined love, but live always in hatred. Then I would 
be a mortal sinner, in fact worse, by God, than a sneak thief ; I 
couldn’t help sinning. I have to get out* of this difficulty by one* 
of two ways: either I love or I hate. But perhaps I should pay more 
in the end for hatred, even though love weren’t worth a penny. 
You would have given me good advice, then, you who have kept 
on preaching to me that I should renounce Love. He who wants to 
believe you is a fool. 

“But you have recalled to me another, little-known love which 
people may feel for each other. I have not heard you decry it 3 if 
you would define it, I should consider myself a fool if I did not 
listen and find out at least if I might learn the nature of love, 
if it would please you to explain it.” 

“Certainly, fair friend,” she replied, “you are a fool when you 
don’t consider the sermon I have given you for your own profit 
as worth a straw j I will give you another one, for I am ready with 
all my power to fulfill your good request, but I do not know if it 
will do you any good. 

“Love is of several sorts other than that which has transformed 
you and taken away your rightful sense. You encountered it in an 
evil hour j for God’s sake, see that you know it no further. One 
kind of love is named Friendship. It consists of mutual good will 
among men, without any discord, in accordance with the benevo- 
lence of God. Through the power of charity, goods are held in 
common in such a way that there may be no exception by any 
intention. No friend is slow to help another, but all are dependable, 
wise, discreet, and loyal, for the mind where loyalty is lacking is 
worthless. Whatever a man dares to think, he may as safely re- 
count it to his friend as to himself alone, without any fear of 
denunciation. Such are the manners that those who wish to love 
perfectly ought to have as habitual practices. No man may be 
truly friendly if he is not so reliable and dependable that he 
will not change because of changing Fortune, so that his friend, 
who has put his whole heart in him, always finds him, rich or poor, 
in the same state of mind. And if he sees his friend being pushed 
toward poverty, he should not wait until he has to ask for help, 
for a favor granted upon request is sold at a price too niggardly 

Discourse of Treason ioi 

to hearts of great value. A worthy man is very ashamed when he 
asks someone to give him something. He thinks about it and 
worries about it a great deal and is extremely uncomfortable before 
he will ask, because he is ashamed to say what he has to and fears a 
refusal. But when a person has been found who has previously 
proved trustworthy in his love, then every occasion that one dare 
think of is one for rejoicing and gladness, with no shame about 
anything. For how could a person be ashamed before anyone of this 
sort I have described? When one has told a secret to him, no third 
person will ever know it; nor will the teller fear any reproach, for a 
wise man keeps watch over his tongue, a thing no fool could do, 
for a fool doesn’t know how to keep his tongue still. A friend 
will do even more; he will help one with everything that he can, 
and will be happier to do so, to tell the truth, than his friend will 
be to receive his help. Moreover, so great is the mastery of love, 
that if he does not fulfill the request for the friend, he will be 
no less troubled by his failure than will he who asked him. He who 
comforts a friend, in any way he can, bears half his sorrow and 
partakes of his joy, as long as their love is rightly shared. 

“Tully says, in one of his works, that as long as our request 
is honest, we should make it of our friends according to the law 
of this friendship, and in the same way should perform the request, 
if it is made with right and reason. Without such a just request, 
one should act in only two cases, which he excepts. If anyone 
wanted to send them to death, we should try to deliver them 
from it; and if their reputation is assailed, we should take care 
that they are not defamed. In these two cases it is possible to 
defend them without waiting for right and reason. No man should 
refuse to do so in so far as love can excuse the case. 

“This love which I put forward to you is not contrary to my 
purpose. I certainly want you to follow it and to avoid the other 
love. This love is connected with every virtue, but the other leads 
men to death. 

“I want to tell you now of another love, which in its turn is 
contrary to the good love and is also to be strongly condemned: 
it is the simulated desire of loving in hearts sick with the disease 
of coveting gain. This love vacillates in the following way: as 
soon as it loses hope of the profit that it wants to get, it inevitably 








102 T he Overthrow of Treason 

flickers and dies away, for the heart which does not love people 
for themselves can never be a loving one. Instead, it pretends and 
goes about flattering for the gain it hopes to have. 

“This is the love which comes from Fortune. It is eclipsed 
as is the moon which, when it falls into the shadow of the earth, 
is obscured and darkened, and, losing sight of the sun, loses its 
clear light. Then when it has passed through the shadow it returns 
wholly illuminated by the rays which the sun showers upon it as it 
beams again from the other side. Such is the nature of this love, 
now clear, now dark. As soon as Poverty covers it with his hideous 
shadowy mantle and it no longer sees the brightness of wealth, it 
must darken and flee; but when wealth shines again, it is brought 
back bathed in light. When riches are absent, love is lacking; as 
soon as they appear, love springs up. 

“Nearly all rich men are loved with this love that I have just 
described, particularly the misers who do not wish to cleanse their 
hearts of the great ardor and vice of covetous Avarice. A rich 
man who thinks himself loved is more horned than an antlered 
stag. Now isn’t this a great folly? It is certain that he doesn’t 
love; and how can he believe that anyone loves him unless he calls 
himself a fool? In such a case he is no wise man, but a fine 
branched stag. By God, he who wants real friends must be a friend. 
I can prove that he doesn’t love: when he has his wealth and 
thinks his friends poor, he keeps his wealth and guards it from 
them. He plans to keep it always, until his mouth is closed and 
wicked death has struck him down. For he would first let his body 
be carved up limb by limb before he allowed his wealth to leave 
him, so that none of it would be shared with his friends. Thus 
love has no part whatever in this situation, for how could there 
be any real friendship in a heart that knows no lawful pity? Cer- 
tainly, the man who neither loves nor is loved is much to be 

“And now that we come to Fortune when we hold a discourse 
above love, I should like to tell you a great marvel of which I 
don’t believe you have ever heard the like. I don’t know if you’ll 
be able to credit it, but it is true nevertheless, and one may find 
it written, that perverse, contrary Fortune is worth more and pro- 
fits men more than does pleasant and agreeable Fortune. If this 
idea seems doubtful to you, it still can be proved by reasoning. 

Discourse of Treason 103 

Pleasant, agreeable Fortune lies to men, tricks them, and makes 
fools of them. Like a mother, she suckles them, and does not 
seem to give bitter milk. She gives them the appearance of being 
loyal when she distributes among them her delights — riches and 
honor, dignities and authority — and promises them stability in a 
condition of mutability; and when she places them on her wheel, 
she feeds them all on vain glory in worldly prosperity. Then they 
believe themselves such great rulers and see their estates as so 
secure that they can never fall from them. Then, when she has 4865 
placed them in such a situation, she makes them believe that they 
have so many friends that they don’t know how to number them, 
and that they cannot rid themselves of these friends who come and 
go around them and consider them their lords, who promise their 
services up to the point of giving the shirts off their backs, indeed, 
to the point of shedding blood, ready to obey them and follow 
them all the days of their life. And those who hear such speeches 
glorify themselves and believe them as though they were the 
Gospel. But all is flattery and guile, as these dupes would discover 
if they had lost all their good fortune and had no means of re- 
covery. Then they will see these ‘friends’ get busy; for if, out of a 
hundred apparent friends, whether companions or relatives, one 
could remain to them, they ought to praise God for him. When 
this Fortune of whom I speak dwells among men, she confuses 
their understanding and feeds them on ignorance. 

“But when contrary, perverse Fortune turns them from their 4893 
high estate and tumbles them around the wheel from the summit 
toward the mire; when, like a mother-in-law, she places on their 
hearts a painful plaster moistened, not with vinegar, but with 
unhappy, meager poverty; then she shows that she is sincere and 
that no one should trust himself to prosperous Fortune, in whom 
there is no security whatever. Contrary Fortune makes men under- 
stand and know, as soon as they have lost their possessions, the 
kind of love with which they were loved by those who were for- 
merly their friends; for those friends whom good Fortune gives 
are so shocked by evil fortune that they all become enemies. Not 
one of them remains, not even a half one; instead, they run away 
from and renounce their friends as soon as they see that they are 
poor. They no longer have anything to do with them, but every- 
where they go around blaming, defaming, and proclaiming them 

49 2 4 



104 T* he Overthrow of Treason 

wretched fools. Even those to whom they gave more, when they 
saw themselves in their high estate, go around testifying in gleeful 
voice that their loss arrived through their folly. Nor do they find 
anyone who will help them out. 

“But true friends remain with them; they have such noble 
hearts that they do not love for riches nor for any profit that they 
expect from their friend. Friends of this sort come to the aid of 
the unfortunate one and protect him, for Fortune has put nothing 
in them. A friend loves forever. Whoever would draw his sword 
on a friend, would he not have cut their love? I except these cases 
that I wish to speak of: love may be lost through pride, wrath, and 
reproach; by revealing secrets which should be kept hidden; and 
by the woeful complaints of venomous detraction. In such cases a 
friend would flee; nothing else would offend him. But such friends 
prove themselves very well if a single one of them is found out of 
a thousand. And since no amount of riches can equal the value of a 
friend or attain such high status that the value of friends is not 
greater, so likewise a friend on the way is always better than money 
in the belt. And when adverse Fortune is in the process of falling 
upon men, she makes them, through the mishaps themselves, see 
so completely clearly that she causes them to discern their friends 
and prove by test that they are worth more than any possessions that 
they might have in this world. Thus adversity profits them more 
than prosperity, for the latter brings them ignorance, and adversity 
brings them knowledge. The poor fellow who, by such a test, dis- 
tinguishes the pure friend from the false, understands them and 
separates them. Wouldn’t he, when he was as rich as he wished and 
everyone always offered him heart, body, and everything he 
owned, wouldn’t he have wanted to buy then the knowledge that 
he now has? He would have been less deceived had he then under- 
stood. Thus the misfortune that he receives brings him a better 
bargain than the riches which deceive him, since it has made a wise 
man out of a fool. 

“Riches do not enrich the man who locks them up in treasure, for 
only sufficiency makes men live richly. The man in easier circum- 
stances and richer than one with a hundred barrels of grain still 
possesses nothing worth two loaves, and I can tell you why: per- 
haps he is a merchant with a heart so evil that, until he has made 
his pile, he is in fearful torment and never stops worrying about 

Discourse of Treason 105 

increasing and multiplying ; as a result he will never have enough 
nor ever know how to get so much. But the other, who trusts 
only in having enough to live for the day and is satisfied with what 
he gains and keeps himself on it, thinks that he lacks nothing ; 
even though he hasn’t a sou, he sees well enough that, when the 
need arises, he will earn enough to eat, to buy shoes and suitable 
clothing; or, if it happens that he falls sick and finds his meat 
tasteless, he reflects, in order to thrust himself from the wrong 
track and out of danger, that in any case he doesn’t need food or 
that a little food will do him, no matter how he feels. Or again, 
he reflects that he will be carried off to the Hotel-Dieu, where 
he will be well taken care of. Or perhaps he never thinks at all that 
he will ever come to such a pass; if he does think so, he believes 
that, before the misfortune takes him, he will have saved up 
enough by then to support himself when it happens. Or if saving 
up against cold and heat, or against death by starvation, does not 
matter to him, he thinks, perhaps, and comforts himself with the 
thought that the sooner he finishes the sooner he will go to para- 
dise, and he believes that God will grant it to him when he will 
have left this present exile. Pythagoras himself tells you, if you 
have seen his book called the Golden Verses , esteemed for its say- 
ings: ‘When you depart from the body, you will move freely into 
a holy atmosphere and will leave humanity to live in pure deity.’ 
He who believes that his country is here is very much a wretched 
captive and a naive fool. Your country is not on earth. You can 
easily learn this from the clerks who explain Boethius’s Consolation 
and the meanings which lie in it. He who would translate it for 
the laity would do them a great service. 

“Again, if such a man knows how to keep himself on his income 
and doesn’t covet the goods of another, he will not think himself 
a victim of poverty; for, as your masters say, no man is a victim 
who doesn’t think himself one, whether he is king, knight, or 
knave. Many carefree roustabouts, carrying sacks of charcoal in 
La Greve, have hearts so light that difficulties don’t bother them. 
They work in patience, dancing, skipping, jumping, and go to Saint 
Marcel for tripe. Since they consider treasures not worth three 
pipes, they spend all their wages and savings in the tavern, then 
go back to carry their burdens, but with joy, not misery. They 
earn their bread lawfully, without stooping to robbery and theft, 




106 The Overthrow of Treason 

and then go back to the cask and drink, living as they ought. All 
who think they have enough are abundantly rich, richer, the just 
God knows, than if they were usurers. For usurers, be well assured, 
could never be rich ; instead, they are so miserly and covetous that 
they are all poor and tortured. 

5071 “And it remains true, no matter whom the idea displeases, that 
no merchant lives at ease. He has put his heart into such a state 
of war that he burns alive to acquire more, nor will he ever have 
acquired enough. He fears to lose the wealth that he has gained, 
and he pursues the remainder that he will never see himself possess, 
for his strongest desire is to acquire another’s property. He has 
undertaken a wondrous task: he aspires to drink up the whole Seine, 
but he will never be able to drink so much that there will not re- 
main more. This is the distress, the fire, the anguish which lasts 
forever; it is the pain, the battle which tears his guts and torments 
him in his lack: the more he acquires, the more he needs. 

5091 “Lawyers and physicians are all shackled by this bond. They 
sell knowledge for pennies; they all hang themselves by this rope. 
They find gain so sweet and pleasant that the physician wishes he 
had sixty patients for the one he has, and the lawyer thirty cases 
for one, indeed two hundred or two thousand, so much covetous- 
ness and guile burn in their hearts. 

5101 “The same is true of the divines who walk the earth: when they 
preach in order to acquire honors, favors, or riches, they acquire, 
in addition, hearts torn by such anguish. They do not live lawfully. 
But, above all, those who pursue vainglory buy their souls’ death. 
Such a deceiver is himself deceived, for you know that however 
much such a preacher profits others, he profits himself nothing; 
for good preaching that comes in fact from evil intention is worth 
nothing to the preacher, even though it may save others. The 
hearers take good example by it, but the preacher is filled with 
vain glory. 

5119 “But let us leave such preachers and speak of those who heap 
up treasure. Certainly they neither love nor fear God when they 
purse up coins into treasure and save them beyond their need 
while they look upon the poor outside, trembling with cold and 
perishing of hunger. God will indeed know how to reward them. 
Three great misfortunes come to those who lead such lives: first, 
they acquire riches through great labor; then, as long as they do 

‘Discourse of Treason 107 

not cease guarding their treasures, fear keeps them in great dis- 
tress j and, in the end, they grieve to leave their wealth. Those 
who pursue great riches die and live in this torment. Nor does this 
situation exist except through the lack of love, which is absent from 
the world; for, if those who heap up riches loved and were loved — 
if right love reigned everywhere, not seduced by wickedness, and 
if those who had more either gave more to those whom they 
knew to be needy, or loaned, not at usury, but out of charity pure 
and simple, as long as the recipients directed their efforts toward 
good and kept themselves from idleness — then there would be no 
poor man in the world, nor ought there to be any. But the world 
is so sick that they have made love a piece of merchandise; no 
one loves except for his profit, to obtain gifts or some service. 

Even women want to sell themselves. May such selling come to 
an evil end! 

“Thus has Fraud dishonored everything by which the goods 5155 
formerly common to everyone were appropriated to men. So bound 
by avarice are they that they have submitted their natural freedom 
to a base servitude; they are all slaves of the money which they 
lock up in their storehouses. Lock up! Indeed, they are the ones 
imprisoned when they have fallen into such error. These wretched 
earthly captives have made their possessions their masters. Wealth 
is profit only when spent; they do not know how to understand 
this proposition, but instead, when faced with it, they will all reply 
that wealth is profit only when hidden. Not so. But they hide it 
so well that they never spend it nor give it away. But no matter 
what happens it will be spent, even though they had all been 
hanged; for in the end, when they have died, they will leave 
it to the first chance passerby, who will spend it joyfully without 
returning any profit to them. They are not even sure that they 
will keep it that long, for there are those who could lay their 
hands on the treasure and carry it all off tomorrow. 

“They do great evil to riches when they pervert them from 5183 

their nature. Their nature is that they should fly to the aid and 
comfort of poor men, without being loaned at usury. God has 
provided them for this end, and now men have hidden them in 
prison. But riches, which, according to their natural destiny, should 
be led, revenge themselves honorably on their hosts, for they drag 
them ignominiously behind, they rend them and stab them re- 




108 The Overthrow of Treason 

peatedly. They pierce their hearts with three blades. The first is 
the labor of acquisition. The second that oppresses their hearts is 
the fear that men may rob them and carry off their riches when 
they have gathered them up; this fear torments them unceasingly. 
The third blade is the pain of leaving the riches behind. As I have 
told you before, these deceivers walk the earth spreading evil. 

“It is thus that Riches, like a free lady and queen, revenges 
herself upon the slaves who keep her locked up. She holds her 
peace, rests, and makes the wretches watch and care and toil. She 
subjugates them and keeps them so close underfoot that she has the 
honor while they have the shame, torment, and misery as they pine 
away in her service. No profit is to be made in such servitude, 
at least for him who keeps her. Without fail, after the death of 
him who dared not attack her, nor make her run and jump, she will 
dwell with just anyone. But valiant men assail her, bestride her 
and make her gallop, and so spur her that with their generous 
hearts, they take their pleasure and divert themselves with her. 
They take example from Daedalus, who made wings for Icarus, 
when, by artifice rather than by natural custom, they took the com- 
mon way through the air. These valiant men do the same with 
Riches: they make wings for her so that she might fly and they 
gain glory and esteem rather than let themselves be tormented. 
They don’t want to be reprimanded for the great ardor and vice 
of covetous Avarice. Therefore they perform acts of great courtesy, 
for which their good qualities are esteemed and celebrated through- 
out the world. Their virtues superabound from this practice; God 
considers them very sympathetic on account of their charitable, 
generous hearts. For as much as Avarice stinks to God, who nour- 
ished the world with His gifts when He had forged it — no one has 
taught you this except me — by that much is Generosity, with her 
courtesy and beneficence, pleasing to Him. God hates misers, these 
bound wretches, and damns them as idolaters, these captive slaves 
of immoderation, fearful and wretched. Of course they think, and 
say it as true, that they do not bind themselves to riches except to 
be secure and to live in happiness. 

“O, sweet mortal riches, say, are you then such that you gladden 
men who have thus imprisoned you? The more they assemble 
you, the more they will tremble with fear. How can the man be 

Discourse of Treason 109 

happy who is not in a secure estate? Would blessings leap up at 
him if he lacked security? 

“But no one who heard me say this could oppose me, to con- 
demn and scorn my words, by bringing up the case of the kings 
who, to glorify their nobility, as the lower classes think, pride- 
fully put their care into building up armed bodyguards of five 
hundred or five thousand sergeants. It is quite commonly said that 
this situation exists because of their great courage ; but God knows 
quite the contrary. Fear, which constantly torments and troubles 
them, makes them act in this way. But a roustabout of La Greve 
could more easily go everywhere alone and secure, and dance 
before robbers without fearing them or their activities, than could 
the king in his squirrel cloak, even if he were to carry to his High 
Mass his amassed treasure of gold and precious stones. Every rob- 
ber would take his share ; whatever he brought they would steal 
from him, and perhaps they would want to kill him. And he would 
be killed, I think, before he had moved from the spot, for the 
thieves would be afraid that if they let him escape alive he would 
have them captured anywhere and have them led forcibly away 
to be hanged. Forcibly! But, of course, through the force of his re- 
tainers, for his own force isn’t worth two apples beside that of a 
workman who goes around with such a light heart. By his re- 
tainers? In faith, I lie, or do not speak properly. Indeed they are 
not his, even though he may have dominion over them. Dominion? 
No, but service, in that he should keep them in freedom. Thus 
they are their own, for, when they wish, they withdraw their sup- 
port from the king, who will then dwell alone as soon as the 
people wish. Their goodness, their good qualities, their bodies, 
power, wisdom — none are his, nor anything they have. Nature 
has indeed denied them to him. 

“No matter how agreeable Fortune is to men, she cannot give 
them possession of things which Nature has made foreign to them, 
no matter how these things have been acquired.” 

“Ah, lady, for the king of angels, teach me by all means what 
things can be mine, and if I can have anything of my own. I 
would very much like to know this.” 

“Yes,” replied Reason, “but do not expect fields or houses, 
clothing or such adornment, or any earthly dwelling, or furnishings 








1 1 o T he Overthrow of Treason 

of any sort. You have a much better and more precious thing. All 
the good things that you sense within, and which you so well under- 
stand in yourself, which will dwell in you constantly nor can ever 
leave you to perform similar service for another — these good 
things are yours in a right way. The other benefits which you 
have, alien ones, are not worth an old bridle rein; neither you 
nor any man living has anything worth a shallot; for know that 
all your possessions are enclosed within yourself. Every other 
good belongs to Fortune, who disperses and collects them, gives 
and takes them away as she pleases and with them makes fools 
laugh and weep. But nothing Fortune did would entrap a wise 
man nor would the revolution of her turning wheel bind him or 
make him sorrowful. All her deeds are too dangerous, because 
they are not stable. For this reason, love of her is neither profitable 
nor in any way pleasing to a worthy man; nor is it just that it 
should be pleasing when it falls into eclipse for so small reason. 
Therefore I want you to know that your heart is not for anything 
to be attached to it. You are not tainted by it, but it would be a very 
great sin if, later on, you were infatuated and sinned against men 
to the extent of proclaiming yourself their friend only in order to 
collect their wealth or the esteem which would come to you from 
them. No worthy man would consider this esteem a good thing. 
Fly from this love that I have described as from a thing base and 
despicable. Renounce loving far amour ; be wise and believe me. 
But I see that you are stupid about another thing in that you have 
reproached me, saying that I have commanded you to hate. But I 
ask ‘When? In what place? How?’” 

“You haven’t stopped telling me today that I should despise 
my lord, on account of some primitive love, I don’t know what. If 
a man were to search as far as Carthage, from east to west; if he 
lived until his teeth fell out from old age; if he ran, without 
stopping to idle, visiting south and north until he had seen every- 
thing; still he would not have attained the love you have told me 
of. Indeed the world was washed clean of it from the time that 
the gods fled, when the giants attacked them and when Right and 
Chastity and Faith fled at the same time. That love was so con- 
founded that it also fled and is lost. Justice, who was heavier, 
fled last. They deserted all lands, since they couldn’t endure wars, 
and made their dwelling in the heavens; never since, except by a 

' Discourse of Treason i 1 1 

miracle, have they dared descend to earth. Fraud, who has in- 
herited control of the earth by his strength and insolence, has 
made them all leave the earth. 

“Even Tully, who took great pains to search out the secrets 
of ancient writings, could not so flog his ingenuity that he ever 
found more than three or four pairs of such pure loves in all the 
centuries since this earth was created. And I believe that he found 
less of it among those who lived at his time and who were his 
dinner-mates. I haven’t yet read anywhere that he had ever had 
any such. And am I wiser than Tully? I would be a stupid fool 
indeed if I wanted to seek such loves, since there are no more of 
them on earth. Where then would I seek such a love when I 
wouldn’t find it here below? Can I fly with the cranes, or indeed, 
like Socrates’ swan, leap beyond the clouds? I don’t wish to speak 
of it any longer ; I’ll be quiet. I have no such foolish hope. Perhaps 
the gods thought that, like the giants of old, I would attack para- 
dise, and that I could then be struck down by their thunder. I 
don’t know if that’s what you want, but I shouldn’t remain in 
any doubt.” 

“Fair friend,” she said, “now listen. If you cannot attain to this 
love — for it can just as well fail through your fault as through 
that of another — I will now teach you of another. Another? No, 
but the same kind that everyone can be capable of as long as he 
grasps a somewhat more comprehensive understanding of love. He 
must love generally and leave particular loves. Let him form there 
a lasting union in which many participate. You can lawfully love 
all those of the world in a general way: love them all as much 
as one, at least with the love of what is common to all. Act in such 
a way that you may be toward all as you would wish them all to 
be toward you. Neither act nor pursue a course of action toward 
any man except that course that you want men to take toward you. 
If you want to love in this way, men should proclaim you free 
from any blame for it. You are bound to pursue this love; no man 
should live without it. 

“Because those who strive to do evil neglect this kind of love, 
judges are established on earth as the defense and refuge of those 
treated unjustly by the world, to see that the injustice is made up 
to them, and to punish and chastise those who, to deny this love, 
assassinate men or kill, rape, rob, or steal, or who harm by detrac- 




i 12 The Overthrow of Treason 

tion, false accusation, or by whatever evildoing, either open or 
hidden. They must be brought to justice.” 

5474 “Lady, since we are speaking of Justice, formerly in such great 
renown, and you are troubling to teach me, teach me a little of 
this Justice.” 

5479 “Say what you want to know.” 

“Willingly. I ask you to make a reasoned statement about love 
and justice and their relationship. Which is worth more, as it seems 
to you?” 

5483 “Which love are you talking about?” 

“About the one you want me to devote myself to, for I don’t 
aspire to submit to judgment the kind which has been implanted 
in me.” 

5487 “Certainly, fool, I believe that; but if you are seeking a true 
judgment, the good love is worth more.” 

5489 “Prove it.” 

“Willingly. When you find two things which are compatible, 
necessary, and profitable, the one which is more necessary is worth 

5494 “Lady, that is true.” 

“Now take care then in this matter; consider the nature of both. 
These two things, wherever they exist, are necessary and useful.” 
5499 “True.” 

“Then I possess as much of each as is consistent with the value 
of the more profitable?” 

“I certainly agree with that, lady.” 

5502 “Then I don’t wish to say more about it. But Love which comes 
from charity possesses greater necessity by far than does Justice.” 
5506 “Prove it, lady, before you go on.” 

“Willingly. I tell you without feigning that the good which 
can suffice itself is more necessary and greater, therefore the better 
choice, than that which needs help. You will not contradict me.” 
5513 “Why not? Make yourself understood, and I can then know if 
there is any objection. I should like to hear an example before I 
can know if I might agree.” 

“My faith, when you bid me give examples and proofs, they 
become great burdens. Nevertheless you shall have your example, 
since by it you will know better. If a man can, without the neces- 

' Discourse of Treason 1 1 3 

sity of any other help, drag a boat easily which already you were 
unable to drag by yourself, wouldn’t he pull better than you?” 
“Yes, lady, at least by cable.” 

“Now take here your likeness. If Justice were always asleep, 
still Love would be enough to lead a good and pure life, without 
judging anyone. But Justice without Love? No. It is for this 
reason that I call Love the better.” 

“Prove this to me.” 

“Willingly. Now keep quiet while I do so. If Justice, who 
reigned formerly at the time when Saturn held power — Saturn, 
whose testicles Jupiter, his hard and bitter son, cut off as though 
they were sausages and threw into the sea, thus giving birth to 
Venus, as the book tells — if Justice, I say, were to return to earth 
and were as well esteemed today as she was then, there would 
still be need for men to love each other, no matter how they main- 
tained Justice 5 for, from the time that Love might wish to flee, 
Justice would cause great destruction. But if men loved, they 
would never harm each other; and since Transgression would 
leave, what end would Justice serve?” 

“I don’t know what end, lady.” 

“I well believe you, for everyone in the world would then live 
peacefully and tranquilly, and they would never have a king or 
prince; there would be neither bailiff nor provost as long as people 
lived honestly. Judges would never hear any clamor. So I say 
that Love by itself is worth more than Justice, even though the 
latter works against Malice, the mother of lordships, by which 
freedom has perished; for if there had been no evil or sin to stain 
the world, man would never have seen a king nor known a judge 
on earth. Judges judge evily where they ought first to make them- 
selves just, since men want to trust in them. In order to do right 
by the complainants, they should observe law, be diligent, not lazy 
and negligent, nor covetous, false, and feigning. But now they sell 
their decisions, and turn the elements of the legal process upside 
down; they tally, they count, they erase, and poor men all pay. 
Each strives to take from the other. Such a judge makes a robber 
hang when he himself ought rather to be hanged, if a judgment 
were rendered against him for the rapines and the wrongs that 
he has committed through his power. 




1 14 The Overthrow of Treason 

5589 “Wouldn’t Appius have done well to hang? According to Titus 
Livius, who knows well how to recount the case, Appius had his 
sergeant institute a trumped-up case with false witnesses against 
the maiden Virginia, daughter of Virginius. Because Appius 
couldn’t intimidate the girl, who cared for neither him nor his 
lechery, his hireling said in audience: ‘Sir judge, pronounce sen- 
tence for me, for the girl is mine. I will prove against anyone 
living that she is my slave, for, wherever she may have been nour- 
ished, she was stolen from my household almost at the time of 
her birth and given to Virginius. I demand, Sir Appius, that you 
deliver my slave to me, for it is just that she serve me, not the one 
who has brought her up. If Virginius refuses, I am ready to prove 
all that I have said, for I can find good witnesses to it.’ Thus spoke 
the evil traitor, the minister of the false judge. Virginius was quite 
ready to reply and confound his adversaries, but, as the case went, 
Appius spoke before he did and made the hasty judgment that the 

5624 girl was to be returned to the servant without delay. When the 
fine, worthy man, the good and widely renowned knight named 
before, that is, Virginius, saw well that he couldn’t defend his 
daughter against Appius and that he had to give her up perforce 
and deliver her body to infamy, he exchanged shame for injury, 
in a marvelous process of reasoning, if Livy doesn’t lie. For, 
through love and without any hatred, he immediately cut off the 
head of his beautiful daughter Virginia and then presented it to 
the judge before all, in open court. The judge, according to the 
story, commanded that he be seized immediately and led out to 
be killed or hanged. But he was neither killed nor hanged, for the 
citizens, all moved by pity, defended him as soon as this action 
was known. Then, for this injustice, they put Appius in prison, 
where he quickly killed himself before the day of his trial. And 
Claudius, who initiated the case against Virginia, would have been 
condemned to death as a thief if Virginius, through his pity, had 
not saved him. He begged the citizens to have him sent into exile. 
All the witnesses to Claudius’s case were condemned to death. 

5659 “In short, judges commit many wrongs. Lucan, a very wise 
man, has said also that no one could see virtue and great power 
together. But know that, even though these judges do not mend 
their ways and give back what they have wrongly taken, the 
powerful immortal judge will put them, with a rope around their 

Discourse of Treason 1 1 5 

necks, in hell with the devils. I do not except kings or prelates. 
No matter what kind of judges they are, temporal or ecclesiastical, 
they do not have their positions to act in this way. They should 
bring to a conclusion, without recompense, the cases that are 
brought to them; they should open the door to plaintiffs, and in 
their own persons hear the arguments, false ones and good ones. 
They don’t have their honors for nothing, nor to go around giv- 
ing themselves airs. They are the servants of the lower classes, 
who enrich and people the land, and they should give oath and 
swear to do right as long as they survive; the people should live 
in peace through them, and, since their duty is to do justice, the 
judges should pursue malefactors and arrest robbers with their 
own hands if there were no one who wished to undertake such a 
job personally. It is in this direction that they should turn their 
attention. It is for this that men gave them salaries, and it was 
this that they promised the people when they first took on these 

“Now, if you have understood well, I have answered what you 
have asked, and you have seen the reasons which seem to me ap- 
propriate to this judgment.” 

“Lady, you have certainly repaid me well, and I consider my- 
self well recompensed; I thank you. But I heard you speak at one 
point, it seems to me, some words so shameless and excessive that 
I believe that if anyone wanted to waste time in undertaking to 
excuse you, he wouldn’t be able to find any defense.” 

“I see well,” she said, “what you are thinking about. At another 
time, whenever you wish, you will hear an explanation, if you 
will please remember.” 

“Indeed, I will remind you,” I said, with a lively memory, “of 
the very word you used. My master has forbidden me — I heard 
him very clearly — ever to let fall from my mouth any word ap- 
proaching ribaldry. But as long as I didn’t use the word originally, 

I can easily repeat it; I will name it right out without restriction. 
He does well who reveals folly to him whom he sees commit 
folly. Now I can chastise you to that extent, and you who pretend 
to be so wise will see as well your own trespass.” 

“I will await that,” she said, “but meanwhile I must answer 
what you have objected to me about hatred. I wonder how you dare 
say it. Don’t you know that it doesn’t follow at all that, if I wish to 






57 5 2 



1 1 6 "The Overthrow of Treason 

leave off one folly, I must commit a similar or greater one? If I 
wish to destroy the mad love to which you aspire, do I order you 
to hate to that end? Don’t you remember Horace, who had such 
good sense and grace? Horace, no fool, said that when madcaps 
flee from vices, they turn to the contraries, and their affairs go no 
better. I do not wish to forbid love which one ought to under- 
stand as good, only that which is harmful to men. If I forbid 
drunkenness, I do not wish to forbid drinking. Such a course 
would not be worth a grain of pepper. When I forbid senseless 
generosity, I would be counted mad were I to counsel avarice, for 
one is just as great a vice as the other. I do not make such argu- 

“Yes, indeed you do.” 

“Certainly you lie; I’m not trying to flatter you. You have 
not, to overcome me, examined old books; you are not a good 
logician. I do not explain love in that way. Never, out of my mouth, 
has come the counsel that one ought to hate anything. One must 
find the right mean. It is the love which I love and esteem so 
much that I have taught you to love. 

“There is another love, a natural one, which Nature has created 
in beasts, by means of which they rear their young, suckle them, 
and nourish them. If you want me to tell you the definition of this 
love of which I speak, it is a natural inclination to wish to preserve 
one’s likeness by a suitable intention, either by engendering or by 
caring for nourishment. Male and female of man as well as beast 
are prepared for this love. However much good it does, this love 
carries neither praise nor blame nor merit ; it is to be neither praised 
nor blamed; Nature makes creatures give themselves to it; in 
truth, they are forced to it. Nor does this love bring any victory 
over vice. But, without fail, if men do not perform this duty, they 
should be blamed. When a man eats, what praise is due him? But 
if he foreswears food, he should certainly be shamed. But I know 
very well that you are not interested in this love, and I therefore 
pass on. You have undertaken, in this love of yours, a much more 
senseless enterprise. It would be better for you to leave it, if you 
wish to advance toward your own profit. 

“Nevertheless I don’t want you to live without a friend. If it 
pleases you, turn your attention to me. Am I not a lady beautiful, 
noble, fit to serve a worthy man, even the emperor of Rome? I 

Discourse of Treason 1 1 7 

want to become your friend, and if you wish to hold to me, do 
you know what my love will be worth to you? So much that you 
will never lack anything you need, no matter what misfortune 
comes to you. You will then be a lord so great that no one ever 
heard tell of a greater. I will do whatever you wish ; you can never 
make a wish too high provided only that you carry out my work. 
You must never work in any other way. Furthermore, you will 
have a lover of such noble family that there is none to compare 
with her; I am the daughter of God, the sovereign father who 
made and shaped me so. See here His form, and see yourself in my 
clear face. No girl of such descent ever had such power of loving 

as have I, for I have leave of my father to take a friend and be 

loved. I shall never be blamed for it, nor need you worry about 
sin, since you will be in my father’s keeping, and he will feed us 
both together. Do I say well? Answer me: how does it seem to 

you? Does the god who has made you mad know how to pay his 

followers as well? Does he dress them at such cost, these fools 
whose homage he demands? Before God, take care lest you refuse 
me. Maidens unaccustomed to begging are thrown into great sor- 
row and turmoil when they are refused. You can prove this fact 
yourself by the case of Echo, without seeking other proofs.” 

“Now tell me, not in Latin, but in French, what you want me 
to serve.” 

“Allow me to be your servant and you my loyal friend. You 
will leave the god who has put you in this plight and will not value 
at one prune the whole wheel of Fortune. You will be like Socrates, 
who was so strong and stable that he was neither happy in pros- 
perity nor sad in adversity. He put everything in one balance, 
good happenings and mishaps, and made them of equal weight, 
neither enjoying luck nor being weighed down by misfortune. 
Whatever might come to pass, he was neither joyous nor heavy be- 
cause of things. He was the one, says Solinus, who, according to 
Apollo’s answer, was judged the wisest man in the world. He was 
the one whose face always wore the same expression no matter 
what happened. He was never found changed even by those who 
killed him with hemlock because he denied the existence of many 
gods and believed in a single god, and preached that others should 
avoid swearing by many gods. 

“Heraclitus and Diogenes were also of such heart that, even 






1 1 8 The Overthrow of Treason 

in poverty and distress, they never were saddened. Firmly fixed 
in their resolutions, they underwent all the misfortunes which came 
to them. Do you the same, nor ever serve me in any other way. 
Do not let Fortune overcome you, however she torments or 
strikes you. He is neither a good nor strong fighter who cannot 
contend against Fortune when she makes her efforts and wishes 
to discomfit and vanquish him. One must not let himself be taken 
but must defend himself vigorously. She knows so little of fight- 
ing that everyone who fights against her, whether in palace or 
dunghill, can overcome her in the first round. He who fears her 
at all is not brave, for no man who knew all her strength, and 
understood himself without doubt, could be tripped up by her 
as long as he didn’t voluntarily throw himself to earth. It is still 
a great pity to see men who can defend themselves let themselves 
be led out to hang. He who wanted to complain of such a situation 
would be wrong, since there is no greater laziness. Take care then 
never to take anything from her, neither honors nor services. Let 
her turn her wheel, which she turns constantly without stopping, 
while, like a blind person, she remains at the center. Some she 
blinds with riches, honors, and dignities, while she gives poverty 
to others ; and when it pleases her, she rakes everything back. He 
who allows himself to be upset by events or who takes pleasure in 
anything is a great fool, since he can protect himself; he can cer- 
tainly do so, but only if he wishes to. Apart from this, there re- 
mains one thing certain: you are making a goddess of Fortune and 
elevating her to the heavens. You should not do so, since it is 
neither right nor reasonable that she have her dwelling in para- 
dise. She is not so very fortunate; instead, she has a very perilous 

“There is a rock placed in the depths of the sea, in its center, 
projecting on high above it, against which the sea growls and 
argues. The waves, continually struggling with it, beat against it, 
worry it, and many times dash against it so strongly that it is en- 
tirely engulfed; again it sheds the water which has drenched it, 
the waves draw back, and it rises again into the air and breathes. 
It does not keep any one shape, but is always changing, always 
re-forming, appearing in a new shape and transforming itself. It 
is always clothed in a different manner: when it is open to the air 
and Zephirus rides the sea, this breeze brings out flowers and 

' Discourse of Treason 1 1 9 

makes them flame like stars, and makes the grass spring up green. 
But when Bise, the north wind, blows in his turn, he cuts down the 
flowers and grass with the sword of his cold, so that the flower 
loses its being as soon as it begins to be born. 

“There is a strange wood on the rock; the trees in it are won- 
drous. One is sterile and bears nothing; another delights in bearing 
fruit. One never stops producing leaves; another is bare of foliage. 
While one remains green, many are without leaves. When one 
begins to put forth blossom, the flowers are dying on others. One 
raises itself on high as its neighbors are bent toward the earth. 
While buds are appearing on one, the others are blighted. There 
the broom plants are giant, while pine and cedar, their growth 
arrested, are dwarf. Every tree is deformed in some way; one 
takes the shape of another. The laurel, which should be green, has 
tarnished leaves; the olive in its turn dries up when it should be 
fecund and living; the willows, which should be sterile, flower and 
bear fruit; the elm strives against the vine and steals the form 
of the grapevine. There the nightingale rarely sings, but the 
screech-owl with his great beard, the prophet of misfortune and 
hideous messenger of sorrow, cries out and raves. 

“Two rivers, different in taste, form, and color, flow there sum- 
mer and winter: they issue from two different fountains which 
come in turn from very different springs. One of them pours out 
waters so sweet, so flavorful and honeyed that there is no man 
who drinks of it who does not drink more than he should; the drink 
is so sweet and so dear that he cannot satisfy his thirst with it, for 
those who go on drinking more burn with thirst more than before. 
No one drinks of it without getting drunk, but no one is freed 
from his thirst; the overpowering sweetness so deceives men that 
there is no one who swallows so much that he doesn’t want to 
swallow more; that is how well the sweetness knows how to de- 
ceive them. Lechery so stimulates them that they become hydroptic. 

“This river runs so pleasantly, with such a murmuring, that 
it thrums and strums and sounds sweeter than a drum or tam- 
bourine; there is no one who goes that way whose heart is not 
brightened. There are many who, hastening to enter there, are 
stopped at the entrance and have no power to go farther. They 
go on, hardly wetting their feet, and scarcely touch the sweet 
waters, no matter how close they come to the river. They drink no 




120 The Overthrow of Treason 

more than a little of it, and, when they taste its sweetness, they 
wish so deeply to continue that they plunge themselves entirely 
therein. Others pass so far ahead that they go washing themselves 
in the depths of the gulf and congratulate themselves on the com- 
fort that is theirs in thus bathing and swimming. Then there comes 
a light wave that pushes them to the shore behind and puts them 
back on dry land, where their hearts burn and dry up. 

“Now I shall tell you about the other river and its nature. Its 
waters are sulfurous, dark, and evil-tasting, like a smoking fireplace, 
and all scummy with its stench. It does not flow sweetly but de- 
scends so hideously that in its travels it disturbs the air more than 
any fearful thunder. At no time — and I do not lie — does Zephirus 
blow over this river or ripple its waves, which are very ugly and 
deep. But Bise, the sorrowful wind from the north, has taken up 
battle against it and constrains it by necessity to stir up all its waves. 
The wind makes the valleys and plains rise up and look like moun- 
tains and makes them battle each other, so strongly does the river 
want to struggle. Many men dwell on the bank and there sigh and 
weep so much, without putting bounds or limits to their weeping, 
that they plunge themselves entirely into their tears and never 
cease to fear that they may have to drown in the river. Many 
people enter that river, not just up to the belly, but they plunge 
into its torrents until they are completely swallowed up. There 
they are pushed to and fro by the hideous, fearful river. The water 
swallows and engulfs many of them, and many are thrown out by 
the waves; but the torrents absorb many who are thrown down so 
far into the depths that they do not know how to remember a 
track by which they might return. Instead, they have to dwell 
there without ever returning above. 

“This river winds so much as it flows, changing its course 
through so many branches, that it falls, with all its sorrowful 
poison, into the river of sweetness and, with its stench and filth, 
changes the other’s nature, giving to it a share of its corruption, 
full of evil misfortune; it so poisons and agitates the sweet river 
that it makes it bitter and roily and, with its excessive heat, robs 
the other river of its moderate temperature. The dark river 
exhales such a stench at its host that it even carries off its pleasant 

Discourse of Treason 12 1 

“On high, at the top of the mountain, on the slope, not on the 
plateau, always threatening ruin and ready to accept a fall, the 
house of Fortune stands aslant. There is not a single storm of the 
winds nor any torment that they can offer that this house does 
not have to endure. There it receives the attacks and the torments 
of many tempests. Zephirus, the sweet wind without peer, rarely 
comes there to moderate, with its soft, peaceful breezes, the terrible 
attacks of the harsh winds. 

“One part of the hall mounts upward; another descends. One 
can see the house inclined so much that it seems as though it must 
fall. No one, believe me, ever saw so variegated a house. In one 
part it shines brilliantly, for there the walls of gold and silver are 
fine, and the entire roof as well is of the same workmanship, glow- 
ing with the clearest and most brilliant precious stones. Everyone 
praises this part as a marvel. In another part, the walls are of mud 
not as thick as the width of a palm, and the entire roof is made of 
thatch. In one part the house remains proud of its marvelously 
great beauty, and in another it feels so weak and gaping, so rent 
with cracks in more than five hundred thousand places, that it 
trembles with fright. And if anything unstable, vagabond, and 
mutable has any definite habitation, Fortune has her mansion there. 

“When she wants to be honored, she withdraws into the golden 
part of her house and dwells there. Then she apparels and adorns 
her body and, like a queen, clothes herself in long dresses that trail 
behind her, with many different perfumes and with highly varied 
colors, dresses made of silks and woolens, with patterns of plants 
and grains and many other things with which are colored the 
cloths in which rich people dress when they prepare themselves to 
receive honors. Fortune disguises herself in this way. But I tell 
you indeed that she does not value all those of the world at a 
straw when she sees her body thus dressed; she is so proud and 
haughty that there is no pride to be compared with hers. For when 
she sees her great riches, her great honors and glories, she is so 
full of her overweening folly that she does not believe, no matter 
how things may go afterward, that there is anywhere in the world 
a man or woman worth as much as she. Then she goes along, with 
her whole wheel flying, roaming through her hall until she comes 
to the part that is dirty, weak, cracked, and shaking. She goes 



61 19 


I 22 

T^he Overthrow of Treason 

stumbling along and throws herself to the ground as if she had 
seen nothing there ; and when she sees herself fallen there, she 
changes her countenance and her clothing ; she bares and undresses 
herself until she is stripped of her clothing, and she is so lacking 
in every good thing that it seems that she has nothing worth any- 
thing. And when she sees her misfortune, she seeks a shameful 
way out and, full of sorrow and sighing, goes to stagnate in a 
whorehouse. There, with lavish tears, she weeps over the great 
honors that she has lost and the delights in which she lived when 
she was dressed in magnificent robes. And since she is so perverse 
that she overturns the good into the mire, dishonors and grieves 
them, and elevates the wicked on high and gives them dignities, 
honors, and powers in great abundance, then afterward, when she 
pleases, robs and steals from them — since she is thus perverse, she 
does not know, it seems, what she herself wants. For this reason 
the ancients, who knew her, thought of her with her eyes bandaged. 

6 175 “I can find many examples of how Fortune acts thus, of how 

she degrades and destroys the good and maintains the evil in honor, 
for I want you to remember all these examples. I have already 
told you before about Socrates, the valiant man whom I loved and 
who loved me so much that he referred to me in all his deeds. 
One can prove the nature of Fortune immediately by both Seneca 
and Nero, of whom we will speak quickly because of the length of 
our matter. I would use up too much time in telling the deeds of 
Nero, that cruel man, and about how he set fire to Rome and had 
the senators killed. Indeed, he had a heart harder than stone when 
he had his brother killed, when he had his mother dismembered so 
that he might see the place where he was conceived. After he saw 
her dismembered, according to the story that men remember, he 
judged the beauty of her limbs. Ah, God! What a criminal judge 
she had! According to the story no tear issued from his eyes, but, 
as he was judging the limbs he commanded that wine be brought 
from his rooms, and he drank for his body’s pleasure. But he had 
known her before, and he had also possessed his sister. And he 
gave himself to other men, this disloyal one that I speak of. 

6211 “He made a martyr of Seneca, his good master, and he made 
him choose the death by which he wanted to die. Seneca saw that 
the devil was so powerful that he could not escape. ‘Then,’ he 

“Discourse of Treason 123 

said, ‘since it is impossible to escape, let a bath be heated and 
have me bled therein so that I may die in warm water and that 
my joyous, happy soul may return to God, who formed it and 
who forbids it any further torments.’ 

“After these words, without delay, Nero had the bath brought 6223 
and the good man put into it. Then, the text says, he had him bled 
until he was forced to give up his soul, so much blood was he made 
to pour out. Nero knew no other cause for this deed than that, 
by custom, he had from his infancy practiced showing respect to 
him, as a disciple does to his master. 

“ ‘But this should not be,’ said Nero. ‘It is not fitting that any 6234 
man, after he is emperor, should show reverence to another man, 
whether he be his master or his father.’ 

“Therefore it troubled him greatly when he saw his master com- 6239 
m g and he arose in his presence, but he could not refrain from 
showing reverence from the force of habit, and he therefore had 
the worthy man destroyed. And it was this unlawful creature of 
whom I speak who held the empire of Rome; the east, the south, 
the west and north he held in his jurisdiction. 

“And if you know how to listen well to me, I can teach you, 6251 
in our talks, that riches and reverences, dignities, honors, and 
powers, and all other gifts of Fortune — for I do not except even 
one — are not powerful enough to make good men of those who 
possess them or to make them worthy of having wealth, honors, 
or high station. But if they have inner qualities of harshness, pride, 
or some other evil, they show and reveal these qualities sooner 
in the grand estate to which they raise themselves than if they 
had occupied low stations, in which they could do no such harm; 
for, when they use their powers, their deeds reveal their wills 
and give a demonstration, an outward sign, that they are neither 
good nor worthy of riches, dignities, honors, or powers. 

“In this connection, men have a common saying that is very 6273 
foolish, if their silly reasoning gets them off the track and they 
take it as entirely true. Honors, they say, change manners. But 
they reason badly, for honors work no change, but give a demon- 
stration, an outward sign that those who have taken the roads by 
which they came to these honors had just such manners in them- 
selves before, when they were in low estate. If they are cruel and 

124 The Overthrow of Treason 

proud, spiteful and malicious after they have come to receive 
honors, you may know that, if they had then had the power, they 
would formerly have been such as you can see them afterward. 

6291 “However, I do not give the name of power to evil or unregu- 
lated power, for our text says, and says well, that all power comes 
from the good and that no man fails to do good except through 
weakness and omission; and he who understood clearly would see 
that evil is nothing, for so the text says. If you do not care for 
authority, for perhaps you do not believe that all authorities are 
true, I am ready to find reasons, for there is nothing that God 
cannot do. But if you want to extract the truth from this observa- 
tion, it is that God cannot do evil; and if you understand well, and 
see that God, who has not the power to do evil, is all-powerful, 
then you can see clearly that no matter who numbers the being 
of things, evil contributes nothing to their number. Just as the 
shadow places nothing in the air that is darkened except a lack of 
light, so in an exactly similar way, in a creature in whom good 
is lacking, evil puts nothing except a simple lack of goodness and 

6320 can put there nothing more. The text, which embraces the whole 
range of evil things, goes on to say that the wicked are not men, 
and it brings lively reasons to this conclusion; but I do not want 
to take the trouble now to prove all that I say when you can find it 
in writing. Nevertheless, if it does not disturb you, I can very well 
bring out some of the reasons in a short talk. The wicked are not 
men because they abandon the common goal toward which things 
that receive being aspire and must aspire. That goal, which we call 
the first, is the sovereign of all good things. I have another reason, 
fair master, why the evil have no existence, if you will listen care- 
fully to the conclusion: since they are not in the order in which 
all things existing have placed their being, then it follows, for him 
who sees clearly, that the evil are nothing. 

6343 “You see now how Fortune serves, here below in the desert of 
this world, how spitefully she works; she chose the worst among 
evil men and made him lord and master over all men of this world 
and thus brought about Seneca’s destruction. One does well then 
to flee her favor when no one, however happy, can consider it 
secure. Therefore I want you to despise her and to give no value 
to her favors. Even Claudian used to be amazed at them and used 
to wish to blame the gods for allowing the wicked to rise to great 

Discourse of Treason 125 

honors, high stations, powers, and riches. But he himself gives 
the answer and explains the cause to us like a man who uses his 
reason well. He absolves and excuses the gods and says that they 
agree to this situation so that afterward they may torment the 
wicked to the same extent that they have grieved the gods. For 
they are raised on high in order that afterward men may see them 
fall from a greater height. 

“And if you do me the service that I here enjoin and describe 6371 
to you, you will never, at any time, find a man richer than you, 
nor will you ever be angered, no matter how much the condition of 
your body, your friends, or your possessions may decline, but in- 
stead you will want to have patience. And you will want to have 
it as soon as you wish to be my friend. Why then do you dwell in 
sorrow? Many times I see you crying as an alembic does into an 
aludel. You should be stirred into a mud-puddle like an old rag. 
Certainly I would consider anyone a big joke who said that you 
were a man, for no man at any time, provided that he used his 
understanding, ever encouraged sorrow or sadness. The living 
devils, the evil ones, have heated your furnace, which makes your 
eyes thus flow with tears ; but if you had used your understanding 
you should never have been downcast by anything that happened 
to you. This is the work of the god who put you here, your good 
master, your good friend j it is Love who fans and inflames the 
coals that he has put in your heart, who makes the tears come back 
to your eyes. He wants to sell his company at a high price, for 
it might not be suitable for a man to make his intelligence and 
prowess widely known. Certainly you are badly defamed. Leave 
weeping to children and women, weak and inconstant animals j be 
strong and firm when you see Fortune coming. Do you want to 
hold back her wheel that cannot be held back by the great or the 

“Nero, the great emperor himself, whose example we have 6414 
brought up and whose empire stretched so far that he was lord of 
the world, could not stop her wheel, however many honors he 
might conquer. For, if history does not lie, he afterward received 
an evil death, hated by all his people and fearing that they would 
attack him. He sent for his close friends, but the messengers sent to 
them never found any of them, whatever they might say, who 
would open their doors to them. Then Nero came secretly, in 



126 "The Overthrow of Treason 

great fear, and pounded with his own hands ; they did no more, 
but less, for the more he called to each of them, the more each 
one shut himself up and hid, and no one wanted to reply a word 
to him. Then he had to go and hide, and for protection he installed 
himself, with two of his servants, in a garden, for already several 
people who sought him out to kill him were running about every- 
where, crying ‘Nero! Nero! Who has seen him? Where can we 
find him ? 5 Even though Nero heard them clearly, he could give 
no advice. He was quite dumbfounded that he himself was hated ; 
and when he saw himself in such a situation, with no hope what- 
ever, he begged his servants to kill him or to help him kill himself. 
He then killed himself, but first he requested that no one should 
ever find his head so that if afterward his body were seen it would 
not be recognized. And he begged that they burn his body as soon 
as they could. 

“The old book called The Twelve Caesars , where we find the 
account of his death, as Suetonius wrote it — Suetonius, who calls 
the Christian law a false and wicked religion (he so names it; 
look up the words of the unlawful man) — the old book says that 
the line of the Caesars finished with Nero. By his deeds he secured 
the obliteration of his whole lineage. Nevertheless, he was so 
accustomed to doing good in the first five years that no prince that 
one could have sought ever governed the land so well, so valiant 
and merciful did this lawless and merciless man seem. In audience 
at Rome, when, to condemn a man, he was required to write out 
the death order, he said without shame at his words that he would 
rather not know how to write than put his hand to write such an 
order. According to the book, he held the empire about seventeen 
years, and his life lasted for thirty-two. But pride and his crimi- 
nality had attacked him so powerfully that he fell from high to low 
degree, as you have heard me tell. It was Fortune who caused him 
to mount up so high and afterward to descend, as you may hear 
and understand. 

“Croesus could in no way hold back her wheel from turning 
both below and above. He was a king, of all Lydia. Afterward 
men put a bridle on his neck, and he was given over to the fire to 
be burned but was freed by a rain that extinguished the great fire. 
No man whatever dared remain there; all fled on account of the 
rain, and when Croesus saw that he was alone in that place, he 

Discourse of Treason 127 

immediately took flight without hindrance or pursuit. Afterward he 
again became lord of his land, stirred up a new war, was captured 
again, and then was hanged. Thus was fulfilled the dream about 
the two gods who belonged to him and who served him at the top 
of a tree. Jupiter, it was said, washed him, and Phoebus had the 
towel and took pains to wipe him. It was an evil hour when he 
wanted to depend on the dream; his trust in it grew so great that 
he became foolishly proud. His daughter Phania, who was very 
wise and subtle, told him indeed that she knew how to explain the 
dreams, and she wanted to reply to him without flattery: 

“ ‘Fair father,’ said the girl, ‘there is sad news here. Your pride 65 1 
is not worth a shell. Understand that Fortune mocks you. By this 
dream you may understand that she wants you hanged on the 
gibbet. And when you are hanging in the wind, without cover or 
roof, then, fair lord king, it will rain on you and the fair sun will 
wipe your body and face with his rays. Fortune pursues you to 
this end. She steals honors and gives them; she often makes great 
men lowly and again elevates the lowly to greatness and exercises 
her lordship over lords. Why should I go about to flatter you? 
Fortune awaits you at the gibbet, and when you make your way 
there with the halter on your neck, she will take back the beautiful 
golden crown with which she has crowned your head. Then with 
it will be crowned another to whom you give no thought or care. 

“ ‘To explain the matter more openly to you: Jupiter, who gives 654 
you water, is the atmosphere that rains and thunders, and Phoebus, 
who holds the towel, is, without fail, the sun. I gloss the tree to 
you as the gibbet; I can understand nothing else by it. You will 
have to walk that plank. Thus Fortune avenges the people for the 
haughty way in which, like one beside himself with pride, you have 
conducted yourself. Thus she destroys many a valiant man, since 
she considers neither treachery nor loyalty, low estate nor royalty 
worth an apple. Instead, she plays pelote with them, like a silly, 
stupid girl, and in a completely disordered way throws out wealth, 
honor, and reverence; she gives dignities and powers without 
regard for which person receives them, for when she spends her 
graces she so spreads them about that she throws them over dirty 
pools and prairies as though they were dust. She counts nothing 
worth a ball except her daughter Nobility, cousin and neighbor to 
Fall, and Fortune keeps her very much in suspense. But it is true 

128 The Overthrow of Treason 

without fail that Fortune gives Nobility to no one, however he may 
go about to capture her, if he does not know how to polish his 
heart so that he may be courteous, valiant, and brave. For no man 
is so valiant in combat that Nobility does not desert him if he is 
beset by base cowardice. 

6579 “ ‘I love Nobility because she is noble, for she never enters 

a base heart. Therefore I beg you, my dear father, that you show 
no such base feelings. Be neither proud nor miserly; in order to 
teach the wealthy, have a heart that is generous, courteous, noble, 
and compassionate toward the poor. Every king should act thus. If 
he seeks the people’s friendship, let him keep a heart that is gen- 
erous, courteous, sweet-tempered, and full of compassion, for with- 
out the love of his subjects, no king, at any time, can be anything 
more than a common man.’ 

6593 “Thus Phania scolded him. But a fool sees nothing in his folly, 
as it seems to him in his foolish heart, except sense and reason 
together. Croesus did not humble himself in any way; full of 
pride and folly, he thought all his deeds wise, no matter what great 
outrages he might commit. 

6601 “‘Daughter,’ he said, ‘don’t teach me about courtesy or good 
sense. I know more about them than do you, who have thus scolded 
me about them. In your foolish response, when you explain my 
dream to me in this way, you have served me with great lies; for 
know that this noble dream, to which you want to put a false gloss, 
should be understood according to the letter. I myself understand 
it in this way, just as we shall see it in time. No such noble dream 
ever had so base an explanation. You may know that each of the 
gods is so much my friend that together they will come to me and 
do me the service that they have indicated through this dream, for 
I have well deserved it for a long time.’ 

6620 “Now see how Fortune served him. He could in no way prevent 
her having him hanged on the gibbet. Is it not then a matter open 
to proof that her wheel cannot be delayed, since no man, no matter 
how exalted a station he may know how to reach, can hold it back. 
And if you know any logic, an authentic science indeed, you will 
know that after the great lords fail to stop it, the little ones will 
exert themselves in vain to the same end. 

663 1 “And if you give no value to these proofs taken from old stories, 
you have others from your own recent times, proofs from fresh, 

Dis course of Treason 129 

beautiful battles. The beauty, you should know, is such as there 
can be in a battle. This proof concerns Manfred, King of Sicily, 
who for a long time kept the whole country peaceful by force and 
by guile until the good Charles, Count of Anjou and Provence, 
made war on him. Now, through divine providence, Charles is 
King of Sicily, since the true God, who has always held with him, 
has wished it so. This good King Charles not only seized Manfred’s 
lordship from him but also took the life from his body. When 
Charles attacked, with the sword that cuts well, and discomfited 
Manfred in the front ranks of his army, he advanced on his gray 
horse to say ‘check’ and ‘mate’ with the move of an errant pawn 
in the middle of the chessboard. 

“I do not seek to speak of Manfred’s nephew Conradin, a ready 6656 
example, whose head King Charles took in spite of the German 
princes. As for Henry, brother to the King of Spain and filled 
with pride and treason, Charles put him in prison to die. These 
two, like foolish boys, lost rooks, fools, pawns, and knights in the 
game and scrambled off the board, such fear did they have of 
being captured in the game that they had undertaken. For if one 
considers the truth, one sees that they took no precaution against 
being mated ; since they fought without a king they had no fear of 
check and mate. Nor could he who played against them at chess 
put them in check or mate, either on foot or upon his saddle-bows, 
for one does not check or mate pawns, fools, knights, queens, or 
rooks. If I dare tell the truth and do not seek to flatter anyone, 
according to what I remember of chess and the process of mating, 
if you know anything of it, it must be a king that one puts in 
check or mates ; and this process occurs when all his men are taken, 
so that he sees himself alone in that place. Nor does he see there 
anything to please him; instead, he flees because of the enemies 
who have thus impoverished him. One cannot check or mate any 
other man. All follow this rule, whether they are generous or 
miserly, for Athalus, who invented the custom of chess when he 
was occupied with arithmetic, wished it so. You will see in the 
Policraticus that he digressed from his matter, since he should have 
been writing of numbers, where he found this excellent, pretty 
game which he tested by demonstration. 

“Therefore, Henry and Conradin took to flight for fear of 6699 
being captured. What have I said? To avoid capture? Rather on 

130 The Overthrow of Treason 

account of death, which could have troubled them more and was 
worth least. For the game was going badly, at least on the side 
of their party, which had departed from God and undertaken the 
battle against the faith of holy church ; and if anyone had said 
‘check 5 to them, there was no one to protect against it, for the 
queen had been captured in the moves of the first attack, in which, 
like a fool, the king lost rooks, knights, pawns, and fools. She was 
not present there, but, as a sorrowing captive, she could neither 
flee nor defend herself after they had given her to understand that 
Manfred lay mated and dead, his head, his feet, and his hands all 
cold. Then after good King Charles heard that Henry and Con- 
radin were thus fled, he captured both of the fugitives and did what 
he wanted with them and with many other prisoners who were 
accomplices in their folly. 

6727 “This valiant king of whom I tell you, whom people had the 
custom of calling ‘count 5 — may God protect and guide, night and 
day, morning and evening, his soul and body and all his heirs — 
this king, before he had been given the kingdom of Sicily, of 
which he is now the crowned king and vicar of the whole empire, 
subdued the pride of Marseilles and took the heads of the greatest 
in the city. But I don’t want to say more of him now; I would 
have to make a large book of it. 

6741 “Here you see men who held great honors, and now you know 
what end they came to. Fortune, then, is insecure. Isn’t he who 
rests confident in her indeed a fool, when those whom she wants 
to anoint in front she is accustomed to stab behind? And you, who 
kissed the rose and, as a result, have so heavy a burden of sorrow 
that you do not know how to lighten it, do you think that you can 
always kiss, always have comfort and delights? By my head, you 
are foolish and stupid. But in order that this sorrow may hold 
you no longer, I want you to remember Manfred, Henry, and 
Conradin, who acted worse than Saracens when they started a bitter 
battle against their mother holy church, and to remember the deeds 
of the men of Marseilles and the great men of old like Nero, like 
Croesus, of whom I have told above. With all the great powers 
that they possessed they could not restrain Fortune. Thus a free 
man who values himself so highly that he prides himself on his 
freedom does not know the time that Croesus came into bondage; 
nor, to my knowledge, does he keep the memory of Hecuba, the 

Discourse of Treason 13 1 

wife of King Priam, or of the story of Sisigambis, the mother of 
Darius, King of Persia. Fortune was so perverse to these that they 
held freedom and kingdoms and then in the end became slaves. 

“Besides, I consider it a great shame, since you know what the 6777 
letter shows and that one must study, when you don’t remember 
Homer after you have studied him; but it seems that you have for- 
gotten him. Isn’t this effort vain and empty? You give your atten- 
tion to books, and then forget everything through negligence. 

What is the value of whatever you study when its sense fails you, 
through your fault alone, at the very time that you need it? Cer- 
tainly you should always have its significance in your memory; so 
should all wise men, and they should so fix it in their hearts that 
it would never escape them until death captured them. For he who 
knew the significance, who always had it in his heart and knew how 
to weigh it well, could never be burdened by anything that hap- 
pened to him, since he would hold fast against all happenings, 
good and bad, soft and hard. As for the operations of Fortune, it 
remains as true as it is common that everyone sees her every day 
if he has good understanding. It is a marvel that you do not under- 
stand it, for you have put your attention very much within; but 
you have turned it elsewhere, toward this disordinate love. There- 
fore I now want to recall it to you to make you perceive the better. 

“Jupiter, in every season, says Homer, has two full casks on the 6813 
threshold of his house. There is no old man or boy, no lady or 
girl, old or young, ugly or beautiful, who may receive life in this 
world and not drink from these two casks. It is a tavern full of 
people, where Fortune, the hostess, draws absinthe and sweetened 
wine in cups, to make sops for everybody; with her own hands she 
gives them all to drink from them, but some more, others less. 

There is no one who does not drink every day from these casks, 
either a quart or pint, a hogshead, a pail, or a cup, just as it pleases 
Maid Fortune to drip it into their beaks, either with open hand 
or a few drops at a time; for she pours out good and evil to every- 
one, just as she is both sweet and perverse. There will never be 
anyone so happy that, when he ponders thoroughly, he may not 
find something to displease him in his great ease; nor will he ever 
have so much misfortune but what, again when he knows how 
to ponder, he may not find something in his discomfort to comfort 
him, either something done or something to do. But he must 

132 "The Overthrow of Treason 

think well about his situation and not fall into despair, the obstacle 
of sinners; and no man, however deeply read in letters, may give 
any advice in this matter. What good does it do you then to get 
angry, to weep, or to grumble? Take good heart and go forward 
to receive in patience whatever Fortune may give you, beautiful or 
ugly, evil or good. 

6855 “I could not count all the turns of wily Fortune and of her 
perilous wheel. It is the conjuror’s strap-folding trick that Fortune 
knows how to arrange so that no one, at the beginning, can have 
any certain knowledge of whether he will gain or lose. But with 
this much I shall keep silent about her, except that I shall return 
again a little when I make three honest requests of you, for the 
mouth willingly utters what touches one near the heart. If you 
want to refuse them, there is nothing that can excuse you for doing 
what is much to be blamed. They are that you will love me, that 
you despise the God of Love, and that you put no value on For- 
tune. If you are too weak to sustain this triple feat, I am ready to 
lighten it so that it may be more lightly carried. Take the first 
alone 5 and if you understand me sensibly you will be relieved of 
the others, for if you are not crazy or drunk, you should know — 
and mark it well — that whoever accords with Reason will never 
love far amour nor value Fortune. For this reason Socrates was 
such that he was my true friend. He did not fear the God of Love 
in any way, nor did he budge on account of Fortune. Therefore I 
want you to be like him and bring your whole heart together with 
mine. If you have planted it in mine, you have satisfied me in great 
plenty. Now you see how the matter stands: I make only one 
request of you; take the first of those that I have told you and 
I will pronounce the others paid. Now keep your mouth closed 
no longer. Reply: Will you do this thing?” 

6901 “Lady,” I said, “I can be nothing other than I am. I must serve 
my master, who will make me a hundred thousand times more 
rich when it pleases him, for he should give me the rose if I know 
well how to exert myself for it. And if, through him, I can possess 
it, I would have no need of any other possession. I wouldn’t give 
three chick-peas for Socrates, no matter how rich he were, and I 
don’t seek to hear any more talk of him. I should go back to my 
master: I want to keep my covenant with him because it is right 
and pleasing. If it must lead me to hell, I cannot hold back my 

Discourse of Treason 1 3 3 

heart. My heart! It is never mine. I never impaired, nor do I 
hope to impair my testament in order to love another. I left it 
all to Fair Welcoming, for I know the whole of my legacy by 
heart, and through my great impatience, I had confession without 
repentance. Therefore I would not want to exchange the rose 
with you for anything. You must see my thought on that subject. 

“Moreover, I do not consider you courteous when just now you 
named the testicles to me; they are not well thought of in the 
mouth of a courteous girl. I do not know how you, so wise and 
beautiful, dared name them, at least when you did not gloss the 
word with some courteous utterance, as an honest woman does in 
speaking of them. Often I see that even when these nurses, many 
of whom are bawdy and simple, hold and bathe their children, they 
use other names for them. Now you know well if I lie.” 

Then Reason began to smile, and smiling began to say to me: 
“Fair friend, I can very well, without creating a bad reputation 
for myself, name openly and by its own name a thing which is 
nothing if not good. In truth, I can safely speak properly of evil, 
for I have no shame about anything if it is not such that it may be 
sinful. But a thing in which sin lay could make no difference to 
me, for I never sinned in my life; if I name noble things in plain 
text, without gloss, I still commit no sin, since my father in paradise 
made them formerly with his own hands, along with all the other 
instruments that are the pillars and arguments for sustaining 
human nature, which, without them, would now be destroyed and 
empty. For God put the force of generation into testicles and penis 
with marvelous intention — willingly, not in spite of himself — so 
that the species might be always alive through fresh renewal. 
Through birth that is susceptible to fall and through a fall that 
can be reborn, God makes humanity endure so long that it cannot 
suffer death. He did the same for dumb beasts, that are also sus- 
tained by this process; for when single beasts die, their forms 
dwell in other beasts.” 

“Now this is worse,” I said, “than before, for I see clearly 
now by your bawdy speech that you are a foolish ribald; even if 
God made the things that you have mentioned before here, at 
least he did not make the words, which are filled with villainy.” 

“Fair friend,” said Reason the wise, “folly is not courage; it 
never was and never will be. You will say whatever you please, 







134 T he Overthrow of Treason 

for indeed you have time and space for it, and you do not have to 
fear me, who wish to have your love and favor, for I am ready to 
listen and endure and keep silent. But take care that you don’t 
do worse, even though you may devote yourself to vilifying me. In 
faith it seems that you want me to give foolish replies, but I shall 
never do so. I scold you for the sake of your own good. I am not so 
much yours that I will begin any such base thing as to detract or 
quarrel. It is true — don’t let it displease you — that a quarrel is 
a bad vindication ; and you should know that detraction is a still 
worse form of vindication. If I wanted vindication, I would avenge 
myself very differently; for if, through what I do or say, you mis- 
speak or misbehave, I can, without blaming or slandering you, 
correct you privately in order to chastise you and teach you. Or I 
can avenge myself in yet another way, if you do not want to believe 
my good and true utterance, by pleading, when the time comes to 
appear before the judge, who would give me a just decision. Or 
by any reasonable deed I can take an honorable revenge. I do not 
want to quarrel with anybody, nor, by what I say, to lessen or 
defame any person, whatever he may be like, bad or good. Every- 
one carries his own burden of responsibility for his deeds; let him 
confess them if he wishes, or never do so if he does not wish. I 
shall never press them about it. I have no desire to commit folly, 
provided that I may be able to withdraw from it; I shall never 
even utter folly. To keep silent remains a small virtue; but to 
speak the things to be kept silent is to commit a diabolical deed. 

“The tongue should be held in check. We read a very honest 
saying of Ptolemy at the beginning of the Almagest : he who takes 
trouble over what restrains his tongue is a wise man, except when 
he speaks of God and nothing more. On that subject one does not 
speak too much, for no man can praise God too much; too much 
acknowledge him as lord; fear, obey, love, or bless him too much; 
or too much call on him for grace or return thanks to him. No one 
can occupy himself too much with this subject, for all those who 
receive good things from him should always invoke his name. Cato 
himself agrees, if there is anyone who recalls his book, where you 
may find in writing that the first virtue is to put a bridle on one’s 
tongue. Subdue yours then, and refrain from saying foolish and 
wild things; then you will do only what is worthy and wise. It is 

‘Discourse of Treason 135 

good to believe the pagans, for we may gain great benefit from 
their sayings. 

“But there is one thing that I can tell you, with no hatred 7063 
or anger whatever, without blaming or vexing you, for he who 
vexes people is a fool. It is that, saving your grace and your peace, 
you commit a great fault against me, who love you and bring you 
peace, when you rebel and call me a foolish ribald and vilify me 
without cause. God my father, the king of the angels, courteous 
without villainy, from whom proceeds all courtesy, both nourished 
me and taught me. Nor does he consider me badly taught ; rather 
he taught me this behavior. With his permission it is my custom to 
speak properly of things when I please, without using any gloss. 

“And when, in turn, you want to oppose me, you require me to 7081 
gloss. Want to oppose! Rather you do oppose to me that, although 
God made things, at least he did not make their names. Here I 
reply to you: perhaps not, at least the names that things have 
nowj however, he could indeed name them then when he first 
created the whole world and whatever exists in it, but he wanted 
me to find names at my pleasure and to name things, individually 
and collectively, in order to increase our understanding. He gave 
me speech, in which there lies a very precious gift. You can find 
what I have here recounted to you in an authority, for Plato read 
in his school that speech was given us to make our desires known, 
for teaching, and for learning. This sentence, rhymed here, you 
will find written in the Timaeus of Plato, who was not stupid. 

When, in addition, you object that the words are ugly and base, 

I say to you before God who hears me: if, when I put names to 
things that you dare to criticize thus and blame, I had called 
testicles relics and had declared relics to be testicles, then you, who 
here criticize me and goad me on account of them, would reply 
that ‘relics 5 was an ugly, base word. ‘Testicles 5 is a good name and 
I like it, and so, in faith, are ‘testes 5 and ‘penis . 5 I have hardly ever 
seen any more beautiful. I made the words and I am certain that 
I never made anything base. God, who is wise and sure, considers 
whatever I made well done. By the body of Saint Omer, how 
would I dare not to name the works of my father properly? Must 
I compare with him? The works had to have names by which men 
might know how to name them, and withal such names that one 



7 1 8 1 


136 T’he Overthrow of Treason 

might name the things themselves by their very names. If women 
in France do not name these things, it is only that they are not 
accustomed to, for the right names would have been pleasing to 
those who were accustomed to them; and if they named them 
correctly, they would commit no sin in doing so. 

“Custom is very powerful, and, if I know it well, many a thing 
is displeasing when new that becomes beautiful by custom. Every 
woman who goes around naming them calls them I don’t know 
what: purses, harness, things, or prickles, as if they were thorns. 
But when they are well joined to them and feel them, they do 
not consider them piercing; then they name them as they are 
accustomed to do. When they don’t want to name them correctly, 
I shall never make an issue of it; but I do not go out of my way 
for anyone when I want to say anything openly to the extent of 
speaking correctly. 

“In our schools indeed they say many things in parables that 
are very beautiful to hear; however, one should not take whatever 
one hears according to the letter. In my speech there is another 
sense, at least when I was speaking of testicles, which I wanted 
to speak of briefly here, than that which you want to give to the 
word. He who understood the letter would see in the writing the 
sense which clarifies the obscure fable. The truth hidden within 
would be clear if it were explained. You will understand it well 
if you review the integuments on the poets. There you will see a 
large part of the secrets of philosophy. There you will want to 
take your great delight, and you will thus be able to profit a great 
deal. You will profit in delight and delight in profit, for in the 
playful fables of the poets lie very profitable delights beneath 
which they cover their thoughts when they clothe the truth in 
fables. If you want to understand my saying well, you would have 
to stretch your mind in this direction. 

“But afterward I pronounced these two words — and you under- 
stood them well— which should be taken quite strictly according 
to the letter, without gloss.” 

“Lady, I can indeed understand them; they are so easy to per- 
ceive that no one who knows French ought not to perceive them. 
They have no need of other clarifications. But as for the sentences, 
fables, and metaphors of the poets, I do not now hope to gloss 
them. If I can be cured and if my service, for which I expect so 

Discourse of Treason 137 

great a reward, is meritorious, I shall gloss them all in time — at 
least as much as is fitting — so that everyone will see into them 
clearly. I consider you well excused for the speech that you used 
before and for the two words named above, for you named them 
so correctly that I do not need to waste any more effort on them 
or use up my time in glossing. But I do beg your grace for the 
sake of God: do not blame me any more for loving here. If I am 
a fool, it is my misfortune. At least — and I think that I am quite 
certain of it — I am doing what is wise when I pay homage to my 
master. It makes no difference to you if I am a fool. However it 
goes, I want to love the rose to which I am pledged ; no other 
will ever fill my heart. If I promised my love to you, I would 
never keep my promise ; and then if I did not keep my word, I 
would either deceive you or rob my master. But I have told you 
often that I do not want to think elsewhere than on the rose, where 
my thoughts are turned. When you make me think elsewhere, 
by means of the speeches that you repeat here, until I am con- 
stantly tired of hearing them, you will see me flee away from here 
if you do not immediately keep quiet, for my heart’s attention is 
turned elsewhere.” 

When Reason heard me, she turned back and again left me pen- 
sive and sad. 

7 23i 



Straightway then I remembered Friend and had to bestir myself. 
At all costs I wanted to go to him. And there he was; God led him 
to me. When he saw me in that state, with such sorrow piercing my 
heart, he said: 

7237 “What is the matter, fair sweet friend? Who has put you into 
such torment? Since I have seen you so downcast, I know that 
some unhappiness has come to you. Now tell me what your news is.” 

7242 “God help me, neither good nor fair.” 

“Tell me all.” 

And I told him just as you have heard ; I will never record 
it again. 

7246 “You see — ” he said, “for God’s sweet body! — you have calmed 

Resistance and kissed the bud. You are in no way hindered if Fair 
Welcoming has been captured. After he has conceded so much that 
you were given the kiss, prison will never hold him. But without 
fail, you will have to carry on a little more discreetly if you 
want to arrive at a good result. Comfort yourself, for you know 
well that he will be taken out of the prison where he has been put 
on your account.” 

7260 “Oh! The enemy is too strong, even if there were no one except 
Foul Mouth. It is he who wounds my heart most, who has incited 
the others. I would never have been found out if the glutton had 
not trumpeted the fact. Fear and Shame hid me most willingly j 
even Resistance had given over vilifying me. All three were staying 
competely quiet when the devils arrived that the glutton assembled 
there. Whoever had seen Fair Welcoming trembling when Jeal- 
ousy cried out on him — for the old woman cried out a great deal 
of wickedness — could have taken great pity on him. I fled without 
waiting, and then the masons built the castle where the sweet one 
is imprisoned. That is why, Friend, I turn to you for counsel ; I am 
dead if you do not give it.” 

‘T he zAdvice of Friend 139 

Then Friend said, like one well taught, for he had learned a 
great deal about love: 

“Do not be without comfort, my companion. Take pleasure in 
loving well, serve the God of Love loyally night and day without 
ceasing. Do not be disloyal to him. Such disloyalty, if he found 
you recreant, would be too great; he would consider himself too 
cruelly deceived after he has received you as his man. No loyal 
heart ever deceived him. Do whatever he charges you with and 
keep all his commandments, for no man who keeps them well will 
ever fail of his intent, however late he may be, provided that some 
misfortune from elsewhere, as when Fortune absents herself, does 
not come to him. Think of serving the God of Love; let all your 
thought be on him, for such thought is sweet and lovely. There- 
fore it would be a very great folly to leave him, since he does 
not leave you. Nevertheless he holds you on leash, and you must 
submit to him when you cannot leave him. 

“Now I will tell you what to do. For a time you will delay 
going to see the strong castle. Do not go to play or to sit still; 
let no one hear or see you near the walls or in front of the gate — 
at least no more than usual — until this storm has completely sub- 
sided, even though you don’t wish it so. And if circumstance 
brings you there, pretend, however things go, that Fair Welcoming 
means nothing to you. But if you see him from a distance at a 
crenel or a window, look on him with pity, but do so very covertly. 
If he also sees you, he will be glad of it; but on account of the 
guard he will never leave, nor show any sign on his face, except, 
perhaps, by stealth. Or perhaps, when he hears you talking to 
people, he will close his window and spy through the crack as long 
as you are in that area, until you are turned from it, if he is not 
turned away by another. 

“But take care in any case that Foul Mouth does not see you. 
If he does, salute him, but take care not to change or to show any 
sign of hatred or rancor. And if you encounter him elsewhere, do 
not show any ill feeling toward him. A wise man covers his bad 
humor. Know, too, that those who deceive deceivers do a good deed 
and that all lovers, at least the wise ones, should do so. I counsel 
you to serve and honor Foul Mouth and his followers, even 
though their duty is to destroy you. Pretend to offer them every- 




140 "The Overthrow of Treason 

thing, heart and body, possessions and service. Men are accustomed 
to say, and, believe me, it is true: a cunning man against a crafty 
one. It is no sin to trick those who are tainted by trickery, and 
Foul Mouth is a trickster. Take away the tricks, and he remains a 
thief. You know that it’s true that he is a thief; you can easily see 
that he should have no other name, for he robs men of their good 
name, and he never has the power to give it back. One ought rather 
to lead him out to be hanged than all these other petty thieves who 
steal piles of money. If a thief steals money, clothing by the perch, 
or storehouses of grain, he is requited for at least four times as 
much, according to the laws that are written, if he be caught in 
the act. But Foul Mouth commits too great a crime with his filthy, 
vile, spiteful tongue: once he has spoken slander with his mouth 
he cannot repair it, nor destroy a single word that he has produced 
with his chatter. 

7377 “It is good to appease Foul Mouth, for at any time men are 
accustomed to kiss the hand that they would wish burned. Would 
that the glutton were now in Tarsus, where he could slander all 
that he wanted, as long as he stole nothing from lovers! It is 
good to stop up Foul Mouth so that he may utter no blame or re- 
proach. One has to trick Foul Mouth and his kin — may God never 
be their surety! — with fraud: one must serve them, caress, blandish 
and flatter them with ruse, adulation, and false simulation; one 
must bow to them and salute them. It is a very good idea to stroke 
a dog until one has passed by. His chatter would indeed be de- 
stroyed if he could be led to believe no more than that you had 
no desire to steal the bud that he has made safe from you. By this 
means you could triumph over him. 

7399 “Serve also the old woman — may bitter flames burn her! — who 
guards Fair Welcoming. Do the same with Jealousy — may our 
lord curse her — the suffering, wild woman whom the joy of others 
always enrages. She is so cruel and greedy that if she left some- 
thing for everyone to take a share, she would want to have the 
whole of it so that she would never find her portion smaller. 
Whoever monopolizes such a thing is a fool. It is the candle in the 
lantern: whoever brought light with it to a thousand would never 
find its flame smaller. Everyone whose understanding is not bar- 
barous knows this similitude. 

“If the old woman and Jealousy need you, serve them with your 


The z 4 dvlce of Friend 14.1 

skill. You should be courteous to them, for courtesy is a thing 
that is highly valued, but they must not be able to recognize that 
you are intending to deceive them. You must proceed in this way: 
one should lead one’s enemy to be hanged or drowned with arms 
around his neck, with caresses and flattery, if one can reach one’s 
goal in no other way. In this case I can swear and guarantee that 
there is no other issue, for they are so powerful that, believe me, 
whoever attacked them openly would fail of his intention. 

“Afterward, when you come to the other gatekeepers — if you 
can ever get that far — you will proceed thus: If it is possible with- 
out ruining yourself, lull them by giving them such gifts as you 
hear me tell of: flower chaplets made on forms, purses or head 
ornaments or other little jewels that are fine and beautiful and 
well made. Afterward you will complain of your woes and of the 
toil and torment that Love, who brought you there, has made for 
you. Now if you can give nothing you must promise something 
by oath; however the payment goes, make a strong promise with- 
out delaying. Swear vehemently and pledge your faith rather than 
go away beaten; beg them to save you. And if your eyes weep in 
front of them it will be a very great advantage for you. Weep; 
you will do a very wise thing. Kneel down before them with 
joined hands and, right on the spot, moisten your eyes with hot 
tears that run down your face so that they can easily see them 
falling; it is a very pitiable sight to see. Tears are not despicable, 
especially to men of pity. 

“And if you cannot weep, without delay take your saliva, or 
squeeze the juice of onions, or garlic, or take many other juices 
with which you may anoint your eyelids; if you do so, you will 
weep as many times as you want. Many tricksters have done so who 
afterward were pure lovers whom the ladies let hang in the snare 
that the men wanted to stretch for them, until, through their 
compassion, the ladies removed the rope from their necks. By 
such fraud wept many who never loved far amour ; and thus, with 
such tears and stories, they deceived young girls. Tears attract 
the hearts of such people, provided only that they do not recognize 
fraud in them. But if they knew your fraud, they would never 
have any pity on you. It would be useless to beg for mercy; you 
would never enter within. 

“If you cannot go to them, send word, by voice, letter, or 




75 1 1 



142 The Overthrow of Treason 

tablet, through someone who is a suitable messenger. Never set 
down your own name. In this way, a man may be called a lady, a 
lady in turn a man, and the fact will be much better hidden from 
them. They may think a man a lady, a lady a gentleman. Write 
whatever you write in this way, for many thieves have deceived 
many lovers who read their messages. The lovers are accused by 
them, and the delights of love betrayed. Never, however, trust 
children, for you would be duped ; they are not good messengers. 
Children always want to play, to chatter, or to show, to the traitors 
that coax them, whatever they are carrying, or, because they are 
not wise, they convey their messages stupidly. Unless they were 
not tricked, everything would be made public immediately. 

“These gatekeepers, it is certain, are of such compassionate 
nature that if they deign to receive your gifts, they will not want 
to deceive you. Know that, after your gifts, you will be received. 
Once they take them, the thing is done, for just as the decoy 
teaches the noble hawk to come to hand in the evening and in the 
morning, so are the gatekeepers taught by gifts to give favors and 
pardons to pure lovers. For gifts they all surrender conquered. 

“If it happens that you find them so proud that you cannot 
bend them with gifts or prayers, with tears or in other ways, 
and that instead they all repulse you with harsh deeds and haughty 
speeches and vilify you cruelly, take leave of them courteously 
and leave them in their grease. No autumn cheese ever cooked 
better than they will cook. Through your flight they will become 
used to pursuing you many times, and this process can advance you 
a great deal. Base hearts are so haughty toward those who love 
them that the more they beg the less they value them, and the 
more they serve the more they despise them. But when people 
leave them, their pride immediately falls. Those whom they used 
to despise now please them. They become subdued and pacified; 
when one leaves, it is not pleasant for them, but very harsh and 

“Although the sailor who navigates the sea, looking for many 
a savage land, keeps sight of one star, he does not always run under 
one sail, but changes it very often to avoid a tempest or wind. 
So the heart that does not cease to love does not always run in a 
single stage; he who wants to enjoy good love must pursue at one 
time, flee at another. 

T he ? Advice of Friend- 143 

“Besides, it is very clear (I will not give you any gloss; you 7559 
can trust in the text) that to beg of these three gatekeepers is a 
good act, for, however arrogant they may be, he who wishes to 
commit himself to beseeching them can lose nothing by it and 
can indeed advance himself. He can safely plead with them, for he 
certainly will be either refused or received; he can hardly be 
deceived. Those who are refused lose nothing except what they 
sought to obtain; and the gatekeepers will never be ungrateful 
to those who have begged them, but rather will even be grateful 
to them when they have forced their way there, since there is no 
one so cruel who, on hearing them, may not feel great joy in his 
heart. Keeping quite silent, they think that, when they are loved 
by such people, they are now valiant, fair, and pleasing, and that 
they have all good qualities, in spite of their refusal, either excused 
or conceded. If the petitioners are received, they are fortunate, for 
then they have what they sought. And if they have so much 
misfortune that they do not succeed, then they may go away quite 
free, without any obligation. If envy is possible to those who do 
not succeed, so is some new and pleasing delight. 

“But don’t let them get into the habit of saying at once to the 759I 
gatekeepers that they want to join them in order to pluck the 
flower from the rosebush; but let them say that they come through 
lawful and pure love, entirely with clean thought. Know that the 
porters can without doubt be subdued. Provided that it be someone 
who asks them well, he will never be repulsed. No man should be 
refused there. If you use my advice, never take the trouble to 
ask if you don’t carry your project through to the end, for perhaps 
if they were not overcome, they would have plumed themselves at 
being asked. But they will never plume themselves after they are 
accomplices in the deed. 

“Whatever face they put on, they are of the sort that, if they 7609 
had not been asked before, they would certainly do the asking, 
and would give for nothing, whoever came asking them. But im- 
petuous talkers and those who foolishly give overgenerous gifts make 
them so overweening that their roses become much dearer to them; 
the petitioners think that they will create advantages for them- 
selves, but they work cruel hardships, for they would have had 
everything for nothing if they had never put forward a request 
for it, provided that everyone had acted in such a way that no one 

144 The Overthrow of Treason 

made a request of them before another. And if they had wanted 
to hire themselves out, they would have had a good return for 
it if all had set themselves to agree that no one should ever make 
a speech to the gatekeepers nor give himself away for nothing ; 
instead, the better to subdue the gatekeepers, he would have let 
the roses wither on their hands. But he who offered his body for 
sale, at least in order to do such a job, would not and should not 
please me the least bit. But do not hesitate on this account: ask 
them and stretch the snare for them, in order to capture your prey, 
for you could wait so long that one, two, three, four, indeed fifty- 

7645 two dozen could push their way in quickly in fifty-two weeks. If 
you waited too long, the gatekeepers would suddenly have turned 
elsewhere. Because you wait too long, you will hardly come to it 
in time. I advise that no man wait until a woman asks him for his 
love, for he who does so puts too much trust in his beauty. And 
whoever wants to begin and to further his task quickly, let him 
not fear that she will strike him, however proud and haughty she 
may be, nor that his ship may not come to port, provided that he 
conducts himself sensibly. Y ou will exploit the gatekeepers in this 
way, companion, when you come to them. But never request any- 
thing of them when you see them angry. Spy out when they are 
happy j never ask them when they are sad, unless their sadness is 
born of the anger that might have arisen when Jealousy, maddened 
by the rage into which she was thrown, had beaten them because 
of you. 

7669 “And if you can come to the point where you might keep them 
apart, so that the place may be so convenient that you need not 
fear that anyone will come up unexpectedly, and if Fair Welcom- 
ing, who is now imprisoned for your sake, may escape, then, when 
he has turned on you the fair appearance that he can — and he 
knows very well how to receive handsome people — then you 
should cut the rose, even though you see Resistance himself, who 
receives you only to abuse you, or even though Shame and Fear 
grumble at your deed. They only pretend to get angry, and they 
defend themselves lazily, since in their very defense they give 
themselves up conquered, as it will then seem to you. Although 
you see Fear and Shame blush, and Resistance become agitated, 
or all three lament and groan, count the whole thing as not worth 
a husk. When place and time and season occur, cut the rose by 

The zAdvice of Friend 145 

force and show that you are a man, for, as long as someone knows 
how to exercise it, nothing could please them so much as such 
force. Many men customarily have such diverse ways that they 7695 
want to be forced to give what they do not dare abandon, and 
they pretend that they have been robbed of what they allowed 
and wanted to be taken. Know too that they would be sorrowful, 
however happy they pretended to be, if they were to escape by 
such a defense; I fear that, no matter how much they had grumbled, 
they would be so angry at escaping that they would hate you for 
it. But if you feel, as a result of what they say openly, that they 
are in fact angered and defending themselves vigorously, you 
should not reach out your hand but in all cases should give yourself 
up a captive, begging their mercy, and wait until these three gate- 
keepers, who grieve and vex you, go away, and Fair Welcoming, 
who deigns to abandon everything for you, remains alone. Con- 
duct yourself toward them in this way, like a worthy, valiant, 
and intelligent man. 

“Another thing: pay attention to the way that Fair Welcoming 77 i 9 
looks at you. No matter how he may be nor what appearance he 
may have, adapt yourself to his manner. If he is old and serious, 
put all your attention on conducting yourself in a serious way; 
and if he acts stupidly, you act stupidly. Take trouble to follow 
his lead: if he is happy, put on a happy face; if he is angry, an 
angry one. If he laughs, you laugh, and weep if he does. Maintain 
your conduct in this way at every hour. Love what he loves, blame 
what he wants to blame, and give praise to whatever he does. He 
will then have much more confidence in you. 

“Do you think that a lady with a worthy heart loves a foolish 7737 
and flighty boy who will go dreaming off at night, as if he had to 
go mad, and who will sing from midnight on, no matter whom he 
pleases or annoys? She would be afraid of being blamed and con- 
sidered cheap and degraded. Such love affairs, since they are fluted 
about the streets, are known immediately. It doesn’t matter to 
these people who knows them. He who links his heart with them 
is a fool. 

“And if a man wise in the ways of love speaks to a foolish girl 7749 
and puts on the appearance of being wise, he will never turn her 
heart. Never think that he may succeed because he conducts himself 
well. Let him make his manners like hers; otherwise he would 

146 The Overthrow of Treason 

be shamed, since she may think him a trickster, a fox, a sorcerer 5 
the wretched girl will leave him immediately and take another, to 
whom she lowers herself a great deal. She repulses the worthy 
man and takes the worst of the lot. She feeds her loves there and 
broods over them just as the she- wolf does, whose madness makes 
her so much worse that she always takes the worst of the wolves. 

7767 “If you can find Fair Welcoming and play chess, dice, back- 
gammon, or other delightful games with him, always get the worst 
of the games j always be the low man. Lose the game that you 
undertake whenever you play it. Let him win the games and make 
fun of your losses. Praise all his expressions, the ways he is turned 
out, his appearances, and serve him with your might. Even bring 
him a seat or a stool when he has to sit down. Your suit will 
prosper by such acts. If you can see dust fall somewhere on him, 
remove it from him immediately, even if there was none; or if his 
clothing is dusty, dust it off for him. In short, on any occasion 
do whatever you think may please him. If you do so, never fear, 
for you will never be repulsed. In this way you will come to your 
goal just as I propose it.” 

7795 “Sweet friend, what are you saying? No man who was not a 
false hypocrite would commit such deviltry. No greater wicked- 
ness was ever started. Do you want me to honor and serve people 
who are false and servile? Truly they are so, except Fair Wel- 
coming alone. Is such your advice now? I would be a deadly 
traitor if I were to serve in order to deceive, for I can indeed 
say truly that where I want to spy on people, I am in the habit 
of defying them in advance. At least allow me to defy Foul Mouth, 
who spies on me so much, before I go deceiving him in this way, or 
beg him to abate the storm that he has raised against me; if not, 
I shall have to beat him. Or, if he pleases, let him make amends 
to me for this tempest or I shall exact payment for myself. At 
least let me make a complaint to the judge, who may take ven- 
geance on him.” 

7819 “Companion, companion, those who are at open war should 
seek these solutions. But Foul Mouth is too covert. He is no open 
enemy, for when he hates a man, or woman, he blames and defames 
him behind his back. God shame him, he is a traitor, and it re- 
mains just to betray him. I say fie upon a man who is a traitor. 
Since he is not trustworthy, I have no faith whatever in him. 

The ^Advice of Friend 147 

Within his heart he hates people and laughs at them with his 
mouth and teeth. No such man ever pleased me; he keeps away 
from me and I from him. It is right that he who gives himself 
over to treason should get his own death in turn through treason, 
if one cannot revenge oneself in any more honorable way. 

a And if you want to complain of him, do you hope to stop his 
scandalmongering? Perhaps you could not prove it or find enough 
witnesses. And even if you had proof now, he would not keep his 
silence. The more you prove, the more scandal he will spread, and 
you will lose more thereby than he will. The whole affair will 
become more widely known and your shame more believed in, for he 
who thinks to lessen his shame through revenge increases and multi- 
plies it. Indeed he would never suppress his scandal on account of any 
plea that it be suppressed or beaten down — no, by God, no matter 
who beat it down. So help me God, it would be useless to expect 
that he might make amends to you for it. In fact I would never 
accept reparation from him, even if he offered it, but I would par- 
don him. And if you show any defiance, I swear to you by the saints 
that truly Fair Welcoming will be put in irons, burnt in fire, or 
drowned in water, or he will be locked in so tightly that perhaps 
you will never see him. Then you will have a heart more sorrowful 
than ever Charles had for Roland, when he received his death at 
Roncesvalles through the treachery of Ganelon.” 

“Oh! Pm not going to look for that result. Let Foul Mouth 
go now; I give him back to the devil. I would like to have him 
hanged for having thus wasted my pepper.” 

Companion, hanging him would mean nothing to you ; you 
must take another form of revenge. That office belongs not to you 
but indeed to the judges. However, if you want to believe my 
advice you can trick him by treachery.” 

Companion, I agree to this advice, and I shall never desert 
my agreement. Nevertheless, if you knew any art that showed you 
a route to find any means for taking the castle more easily, I 
would listen to it carefully if you wanted to teach it to me.” 

“Yes, there is a lovely and pleasant road; but it is not useful 
for a poor man. To conquer the castle, companion, one may choose 
a shorter way, without my art or my teaching, and break through 
right to the root of the fortress at the first onset. The gate would 
never hold, and all would let themselves be captured; nothing 








796 1 

1 48 T 'he Overthrow of Treason 

could be defended because no man would dare to utter a word. 
The road has the name of Give-Too-Much. It was laid down by 
Foolish Generosity, who has engulfed many lovers. I know this 
path very well, for I came out of it the day before yesterday, and 
I have been a pilgrim on it for more than a winter and a summer. 
Y ou leave Generosity on the right and take the turn on the left. 
You will never have traveled the beaten path for more than a 
bow-shot, without using your shoes up at all, before you will see 
the walls shake and the towers waver, however strong or fine they 
are, and the gates will open by themselves. It would have made no 
difference if all the people had been dead. At that point the castle 
is so weak that a toasted cake is harder to divide into four than 
the walls are to break down. There it would be captured imme- 
diately. One would need no more of an army than Charlemagne 
would if he wanted to conquer Maine. 

“No poor man, in my opinion, enters on this road at any time. 
No one can lead a poor man to it, nor can he reach it by himself. 
But whoever had led him into it, he would know the road as well 
as I, no matter how well I had been taught. And you shall know 
it, if it please you, for you could learn it just as quickly if, with 
nothing more, you had great possessions to spend wildly. However, 
I shall not lead you there, for Poverty has prevented that step; she 
forbid it to me when I left that road. I spent whatever I had and 
whatever I received from others. I deceived all those who trusted 
me so that I can repay none of them if they had to hang me or 
drown me. ‘Never come here,’ said Poverty, ‘for you have nothing 
to spend.’ 

“You will enter upon that road with very great difficulty, if 
Wealth does not lead you to it. Moreover, she refuses to show 
the way back to those whom she conducts upon the road. She will 
stay with you on the outward journey, but you may be sure that 
she will never lead you back. No matter when you enter the road, 
you will never leave it, night or morning, if Poverty does not put 
out her hand to you; and she has caused distress to many. Foolish 
Generosity remains within the road; she thinks of nothing except 
playing and spending wildly, for she spends her money as if she 
drew it from granaries, without counting or measuring, no matter 
how long it has to last. 

“Poverty stays at the other end, full of shame and misfortune. 

The ^Advice of Friend 149 

She makes so many humiliating requests and gets so many harsh 
refusals that she suffers great agitation of heart. She receives 
neither good deeds nor good words, nothing delightful or pleasant. 

She will never do anything so well that everyone will not blame 
her deeds. Everyone treats her with scorn and contempt. But 
Poverty does not concern you, except that you should think, in any 
event, how you can avoid her. Nothing can give a man so much 
trouble as to fall into poverty. Debtors who have spent all they 
had know this truth very well. Many have been hanged by her. 

Those who beg against their will also know it well and tell of it; 
they have to suffer great anguish before people may give them 
anything of what they have. Those who want to have joy of love 
should also know this, for as Ovid admits, the poor man has noth- 
ing with which to feed his love. 

“Poverty makes men despise and hate and live in martyrdom; 7987 
it even robs people of their sense. For God’s sake, companion, 
protect yourself against it, and make a good effort to believe that 
what I say is proved and true, for you may know that I have 
proved and discovered by experiment, even in my own person, all 
of what I am preaching to you. And I know better than you do, 
fair companion, who have not endured it very much, that poverty 
mounts up with my discomfort and shame. Therefore you should 
have confidence in me, for I tell you this to correct you; the man 
who is corrected by another leads a very blessed life. 

“I was accustomed to being called a valiant man and loved by 8005 
all my companions. I spent gladly in all places, more than gener- 
ously, so much that I was considered a rich man. Now I have 
become a poor man through the expenditures of Foolish Gen- 
erosity, who has put me into this distress, so that, except with great 
hardship, I have nothing to drink, to eat, to put on my feet, or to 
wear. To this extent has Poverty, who steals away all friends, 
subdued and mastered me. And know, companion, that as soon as 
Fortune put me in this plight, I lost all my friends except one — 
this I believe truly — who alone remained with me. Fortune robbed 
me of them thus through Poverty, who came with her. Robbed! 

In faith, no, I lie; rather she took rightly the things that were her 
own, for I know for a truth that, if they had been mine, they 
would never have left me for her. She did not then wrong me in 
any way when she took her own friends. Hers, indeed, but I 

150 The Overthrow of Treason 

knew nothing about them, for I thought that I could possess them 
all, and I had bought them so much with my heart, my body, 
and my possessions, that when it came to the end, I had nothing 
worth a penny ; and when they sensed that I was in such a 
state, all these friends fled. They all made fun of me when 
they saw me at the bottom of Fortune’s wheel, struck down 

8043 to the opposite position, overcome by Poverty. Still, I should 
not complain, for Fortune did me a courtesy greater than I ever 
deserved of her; I saw so clearly round about me and so well did 
she anoint my eyes with a pure ointment, which she compounded 
for me as soon as Poverty came, that if a lynx had put his eyes 
to it he would not have seen what I saw. Poverty robbed me of 
more than twenty — it is certainly true, for I do not lie — more than 
four hundred and fifty friends, and Fortune immediately showed 
me, on the spot and in full detail, the good love of my true friend. 
He met me through Poverty, for I should never have known him 
if he had not seen my need. When he knew it he rushed to me, 
helped me as much as he could, and offered me all that he had 
because he knew my need. 

8065 “ ‘Friend,’ he said, ‘I assure you that here is my body, here are 

my possessions, to which you have as much right as I. Take them 
without asking leave. How much? If you don’t know, take every- 
thing, if your need is that great, for in comparison with a friend, 
the gifts of Fortune are not worth a prune to a friend. We have 
searched each other until we know each other well; we have 
joined our hearts together, have tried each other and found our- 
selves true friends (for no one knows without trial if he can find 
a loyal friend) ; and therefore, so powerful are the bonds of love, 
I keep even my natural goods engaged to you. If it will cure you,’ 
he went on, ‘you can put me in prison as a guarantee or hostage 
and sell my goods and give them as pledge.’ He still did not stop 
at that; he did not go along flattering me, but forced me to take 
from him, for I was so downcast and ashamed that I did not want 
to stretch out my hand. I was like the needy poor man whose mouth 
is so tightly closed from shame that he dares not tell his discom- 
fort, but suffers, shuts himself up and hides so that no one may 
know his poverty, and shows his best appearance outside. This 
was the way I acted at that time. 

The Advice of Friend- 15 1 

“I recall well that beggars who are sound of body do not do 8099 
so; they go around forcing themselves in everywhere with sweet 
speeches of flattery, and they show the ugliest exterior to all those 
who meet them, while they hide the fairest interior in order to 
deceive those who give to them. They go around saying that they 
are poor when they have fat doles and a lot of money stored away. 

But I shall keep silent about them right from now on, for I could 
say so much about them that things would go from bad to worse 
with me; hypocrites always hate the truth which is told against 

“Thus, you see, my foolish heart put forth its effort upon those 8115 
whom I had called friends, and, for no other reason than the 
loss that I spoke of, I am betrayed by my stupid sense and despised, 
defamed, and hated by all men together, except for you alone. 

You do not lose your love; you are attached to my heart, and, as I 
believe — and I shall not cease loving you — if it please God, you 
will always be attached to it. It is true that you will lose me, as far 
as bodily companionship in this earthly life is concerned, when the 
last day comes and Death exercises his rights over the body. (That 
day, I remember well, robs us only of the body and those things 
that go with bodily substances; and both of us, I know, will die, 
sooner, perhaps, than we wish, for Death separates all companions, 
but not, perhaps, at the same time.) But still I know for certain 
that, if loyal love does not lie I shall always live in your heart if 
you live and I die; and if you die before me, you will always live 
again through memory in mine, after your death, just as, according 
to the story, Pirithous, whom Theseus loved so much, lived on 
after his death. For he lived within Theseus’s heart, and Theseus 
had loved him so much while he was alive on the earth that 
after his death he sought him and followed him until he went 
alive to seek him in hell. Poverty acts worse than Death, for she 8155 
torments and gnaws at soul and body, not just for a single hour 
but as long as the one dwells with the other; and in addition to 
damnation she adds larceny and perjury to their account, along 
with all other difficulties by which everyone is sorely struck down, 
every thing, in fact, that Death does not want to do. Instead, 

Death takes all these things away from them and, by her coming, 
brings all their temporal torments to an end; to say no more, she 

152 'The Overthrow of Treason 

troubles them, however sorely, for a single hour. Therefore, fair 
companion, I urge you to remember Solomon, who was king of 
Jerusalem, for we have gained much good from him. He says — 
and pay careful attention to it — ‘Fair son, keep from poverty all 
the days of your life. 5 And in his book he gives the reason: ‘In this 
terrestrial life, it is better to die than to be poor.’ As for shameful 
poverty, he speaks of her, the needy one, whom we call indigence. 
She works such harms upon her guests that one never saw people 
so despicable as those poor creatures. Everyone who uses the right 
text refuses them even as witnesses, because in law they are called 
equivalent to those who are dishonored. 

8189 “Poverty is a very ugly thing, but in any case I dare say that 
if you had amassed enough money and jewels and wanted to give 
as much as you could promise of it, then you could cut buds and 
roses, no matter how enclosed they were. But you are neither that 
rich nor that miserly. Therefore give pretty little presents in a 
pleasant and reasonable way, so that you don’t fall into poverty, 
for in poverty you would suffer harm and loss. Many would mock 
you and would not help you for anything if you had paid more for 
a piece of merchandise than it was worth. 

8207 “It is very suitable to give a lovely present of fresh fruit in cloths 
or in baskets. Never be lazy about doing so. Send them apples, 
pears, nuts, or cherries, sorb-apples, plums, strawberries, wild cher- 
ries, chestnuts, quinces, figs, barberries, peaches, large pears, or 
service-berries, grafted medlars or raspberries, bullaces, yellow or 
other sorts of plums, and fresh grapes, and have some fresh mul- 
berries. And if you have bought them, even if you buy them in 
the streets, say that they were given to you by a friend who came 
from a long way off. Or give red roses, primroses, or violets in 
pretty wicker baskets during the season. Don’t go beyond reason 
in such gifts. Know that gifts fool people and rob the scandal- 
mongers of their gossip. Even if they knew evil of the donors, 
they would speak all the good in the world of them. Fair gifts 
sustain many bailiffs who were formerly in poor circumstances; fair 
gifts of wine and food have been the source of many prebends; 
and fair gifts, without doubt, bear witness to a good life. Every- 
where gifts give strong support to a fair place, and he who gives 
them is a worthy man. Gifts give praise to the givers and put 
those who take in a worse light, for gifts put their natural free- 

The ^Advice of Friend 153 

dom under the obligation to serve another. What should I say? 

In sum, both gods and men are captured by gifts. 

“Companion, listen to my observation and admonition: know 8245 
that if you wish to do what you have here heard me tell, the God 
of Love will never fail, when he attacks the strong castle, to give 
you what he promised. Both he and the goddess Venus will fight 
so fiercely with the gatekeepers that they will subdue the fortress, 
and then you will be able to cut the rose no matter how strongly 
they have enclosed it. 

“But when one has acquired something, he must exercise great 8257 
mastery in keeping it well and wisely if he wants to enjoy it for 
long, for to keep and protect things after they are acquired is no 
less a virtue than to acquire them in various ways. When a young 
man loses what he loves, provided that the loss is his fault, it 
is just that he be called a wretch. For it is a very high and 
worthy thing to know well how to guard one’s sweetheart so that 
one does not lose her, particularly when God gives her as one 
who is wise, simple, courteous, and good, who gives her love and in 
no way sells it. No commercial love was ever invented by a woman 
unless she was a proven ribald 5 nor, without fail, is there any 
love whatever in a woman who gives herself for a gift. May evil 
fire burn up such a feigned love! One should not keep watch on 

“Truly, however, women are nearly all eager to take and greedy 8281 
to ravish and devour until nothing can remain to those who most 
proclaim themselves theirs and who love them most loyally. 
Juvenal tells us as much when he relates of Hiberina that she 
would rather lose one of her eyes than be attached to one man, 
for she was of such hot matter that no one man could satisfy her. 

No woman will ever be so ardent nor her love so secure that she 
may not wish to torment and despoil her sweetheart. But see what 
the others do, who give themselves to men in return for gifts: one 
cannot find a single one of them who does not want to act in this 
way, so that she may have a man in subjection to her ; they all 
have this intention. This is the rule that Juvenal gives, but there 
is no infallible rule, for when he handed down this judgment he 
had heard of the wicked women. 

“But if she is such as I describe, loyal of heart, pure of face, 8307 
I will tell you what to do. A courteous, well-poised young man 

154 The Overthrow of Treason 

who wants to give attention to this matter should take care not to 
put all his trust in his beauty or his figure. It is right for him to 
train his intelligence with manners, arts, and sciences, for beauty, 
if one could consider its ends and its ways of working, can last a 
very short time. Like the flowers in the meadow, it declines quickly, 
for the stuff of beauty is such that the more it lives the more it 

8323 “But good sense, if one wants to acquire it, keeps its master 
company as long as he can live on earth, and it is worth more at 
the end of his life than it ever was at the beginning. It always 
goes forward and will never be diminished by time. A young man 
of noble understanding, when he uses it wisely, should be greatly 
loved and valued highly. And a woman should be happy when she 
has used her love on a fair young man who is courteous and wise, 
and who gives such evidence of good sense. 

8337 “Nevertheless, if he were to ask my advice in order to find out 
if it would be a good idea for him to make pretty rhymes, motets, 
little stories and songs that he may want to send to his sweetheart 
to hold her and make her happy, I must answer that, alas, it can 
make no difference. Pretty songs can be worth very little in this 
case. Perhaps the songs will be praised, but they will bring in little 
other profit. 

8347 “But if she saw a great heavy purse, all stuffed with bezants, 
rise up all at once, she would run to it with open arms; women 
are not so maddened that they would run after anything except 
purses. Although formerly they had other customs, now every- 
thing is going into decline. 

8 355 “Of °ld, in the time of our first fathers and mothers, according 
to the testimony of the writings through which we know this 
field, loves were loyal and pure, without greed or rapine, and 
the world was a very precious place. Dress and food were not so 
luxurious. For bread, meat, and fish, they gathered acorns in the 
woods, and they searched through groves, valleys, plains, and 
mountains for apples, pears, nuts, and chestnuts, rose hips and 
mulberries and sloes, raspberries, strawberries, and haws, broad 
beans, peas, and such things as fruits, roots, and plants. They 
ground ears of grain and gathered grapes in the fields without 
putting them in presses or vats. They extracted honey from oak 
trees and lived abundantly on it, and they drank clear water with- 

The cAdvice of Friend 155 

out seeking sweetened wine or clary. They never drank wine that 
was specially prepared. 

“The earth was not plowed at all then, but, just as God had 8381 
prepared it, bore by itself the things by which each person was 
made comfortable. They did not seek salmon or pike, but dressed 
in shaggy skins and made garments of fleeces just as they came 
from the animals, without dyeing them by means of plants or 
seeds. Their huts and villages were covered with broom plants, 
with leaves and branches, and they made trenches in the earth. 

When the stormy sky threatened the approach of some tempest, 
they sheltered among the rocks or in the huge trunks of grown 
oaks, where they fled for safety; and when they wanted to sleep 
at night, they did not use featherbeds, but, instead, carried piles or 
bundles of leaves or moss or grass into their huts. 

“And when the sky was calm, the weather sweet and pleasant, 8403 
the wind soft and delightful as in an eternal springtime, and 
every morning the birds strove in their warbling to salute the 
dawn of the day, which makes all their hearts stir, then Zephirus 
and his wife Flora, the goddess and lady of flowers, spread out 
for men the counterpanes of little flowers. (These two make 
flowers spring up. Flowers know no other master, for he and she 
go together throughout the whole world sowing flowers; they 
shape them and color them with those colors that the flowers use 
to bring honor, in gay and beautiful chaplets, to young girls and 
men who, with the love of pure lovers, value each other because 
of their great love.) The little flowers that they spread out re- 
flected such splendor among the grass, the meadows, and the woods 
that you would have thought that the earth was grown so haughty 
on account of its flowers that it wanted to take up war with heaven 
over the question of which had the better field of stars. Upon such 8431 
couches as I describe, those who were pleased by Love’s games 
would embrace and kiss each other without rapine or covetousness. 

The groves of green trees stretched out their pavilions and cur- 
tains over them with their branches and protected them from the 
sun. There these simple, secure people led their carols, their games 
and their idle, pleasant activities, free of all cares except to lead a 
life of gaiety in lawful companionship. No king or prince had yet 
committed any crime by robbing and seizing from another. All 
were accustomed to being equal, and no one wanted any possessions 

156 The Overthrow of Treason 

of his own. They knew well the saying, neither lying nor foolish, 
that love and lordship never kept each other company nor dwelt 
together. The one that dominates separates them. 

8455 “It is the same in marriages, where we see that the husband 
thinks himself wise and scolds his wife, beats her, and makes her 
live a life of strife. He tells her that she is stupid and foolish for 
staying out dancing and keeping company so often with handsome 
young men. They undergo so much suffering when the husband 
wants to have control over the body and possessions of his wife that 
good love cannot endure. 

8467 “ ‘You are too giddy , 5 he says, ‘and your behavior is too silly. 

As soon as I go to my work, you go off dancing and live a life so 
riotous that it seems ribald, and you sing like a siren. And when 
I go off to Rome or Friesland with our merchandise, then imme- 
diately you become very coquettish — for word of your conduct 
goes around everywhere, and I know through one who tells me 
of it — and when anyone speaks about the reason that you conduct 
yourself so demurely in all the places where you go, you reply, 
“Alas! It is on account of my love for my husband.” For me, 
sorrowful wretch that I am? Who knows whether I forge or weave, 
whether I am dead or alive? I should have a sheep’s bladder 
shoved in my face. Certainly I am not worth a button if I don’t 
scold you. You have created a great reputation for me when you 
boast of such a thing. Everyone knows very well that you lie. For 
me, sorrowful wretch! For me! I formed evil gauntlets with my 
own hands and deceived myself cruelly when I ever accepted your 
faith, the day of our marriage. For me you lead this life of riot! 
For me you lead this life of luxury! Who do you think you go 

8503 around fooling? I never have the possibility of seeing these quaint 
little games, when these libertines, who go around spying out 
whores, greedy for pleasure and hot with desire, gaze and look 
upon you from top to bottom when they accompany you through 
the streets. For whom are you peeling these chestnuts? Who can 
trick me more than you? The instant I approach near you, you 
make a rain-cape out of me. I see that, in this coat and that wimple, 
you seem simpler than a turtledove or dove. It doesn’t matter to 
you if it is short or long when I am all alone near you. No matter 
how good-tempered I am, I would not hold back, if someone gave 
me four bezants or if I did not refuse them out of shame, from 

The ^Advice of Friend 157 

beating you in order to subdue your great pride. Understand that 
it does not please me for you to wear any quaint adornment at a 
carol or dance, except in my presence. 

“ ‘Furthermore — I can hide it no longer — do you have any 8527 
lands to divide up between you and this young bachelor, Robi- 
chonnet of the green hat, who comes so quickly when you call? 

You cannot leave him alone ; you are always joking together. I 
don’t know what you want of each other that you can always talk 
with one another. Your silly conduct makes me mad with anger. 

By that God that doesn’t lie, if you ever speak to him, your face 
will grow pale, in fact more livid than mulberry; God help me, 
before I get you away from this life of dissipation I will give you 
some blows in that face that is so pleasing to the libertines, and 
you will then stay meek and quiet. You will be held in good iron 
rings; you will never go out without me, and you will serve me 
in the house. The devils make you very secret with those rascals, 
full of lies, toward whom you should be distant. Didn’t I take 
you to serve me? Do you think that you deserve my love in order 
to consort with these dirty rascals just because they have such gay 
hearts and find you so gay in turn? You are a wicked harlot, and I 
can have no confidence in you. The devils made me marry. 

“‘Ah! If I had believed Theophrastus, I would never have 8561 
married a wife. He considers no man wise who takes a wife in 
marriage, whether she is beautiful or ugly, poor or rich, for he 
says, and affirms it as true in his noble book, Aureolus (a good 
one to study in school), that married life is very disagreeable, full 
of toil and trouble, of quarrels and fights that result from the pride 
of foolish women, full, too, of their opposition and the reproaches 
that they make and utter with their mouths, full of the demands 
and the complaints that they find on many occasions. One has great 
trouble keeping them in line and restraining their silly desires. 

He who wants to take a poor wife must undertake to feed her, 8579 
clothe her, and put shoes on her feet. And if he thinks that he 
can improve his situation by taking a very rich wife, he will find her 
so proud and haughty, so overweening and arrogant, that he will 
again have great torment to endure her. And if, in addition, she is 
beautiful, everybody will run after her, pursue her and do her 
honor; they will come to blows, will work, struggle, battle, and 
exert themselves to serve her; and they all will surround her, 

158 The Overthrow of Treason 

beg her, try to get her favor, covet her, and carry on until in the 
end they will have her, for a tower beseiged on all sides can hardly 
escape being taken. 

8597 “ ‘If, on the other hand, she is ugly, she wants to please every- 

body and how could anyone guard something that everyone 
makes war against or who wants all those who see her? If he takes 
up war against the whole world, he cannot live on earth. No one 
would keep them from being captured, provided that they had 
been well-solicited. He who understood how to take a prize well 
would capture even Penelope, and there was no better woman in 

8608 “ ‘In faith, he would do the same with Lucrece, even though 

she killed herself because King Tarquin’s son took her by force. 
According to Titus Livius, no husband or father or relative could 
prevent her, in spite of all the trouble that they took, from killing 
herself in front of them. They urged her strongly to let go her 
sorrow j they gave her persuasive reasons ; and her husband par- 
ticularly comforted her with compassion and pardoned her with 
generous heart for the entire deed, and lectured her and studied 
to find lively arguments to prove to her that her body had not 
sinned when her heart did not wish the sin (for the body cannot 
be a sinner if the heart does not consent to it). But she, in her 
sorrow, held a knife hidden in her breast, so that no one might 
see it when she took it to strike herself 5 and she answered them 
without shame: 

8634. “ ‘ “Fair lords, no matter who may pardon me for the filthy sin 

that weighs on me so heavily, no matter how I am pardoned, I do 
not pardon myself of the penance for that sin.” 

8638 “‘Then, full of great anguish, she struck and rent her heart 
and fell to the ground dead, in front of them. But first she begged 
them to work to avenge her death. She wanted to establish this 
example in order to assure women that any man who took them 
by force would have to die. As a result, the king and his son 
were sent into exile and died there. After that disturbance, the 
Romans never wanted to make anyone king. 

8651 “ ‘And if one knows how to beseech women, there is no Lucrece, 

no Penelope in Greece, nor any worthy woman on earth. If a man 
knew how to take her, no woman ever defended herself. The 

The ^Advice of Friend 159 

stories of the pagans tell us so, and no one ever found an exception. 

Many women even give themselves away when they lack suitors. 

“‘Again, those who marry have a very dangerous custom, one 8661 
so ill-arranged that it occurs to me as a very great wonder. I 
don’t know where this folly comes from, except from raging 
lunacy. I see that a man who buys a horse is never so foolish as to 
put up any money if he does not see the horse unclothed, no matter 
how well it may have been covered. He looks the horse over 
everywhere and tries it out. But he takes a wife without trying her 
out, and she is never unclothed, not on account of gain or loss, 
solace or discomfort, but for no other reason than that she may 
not be displeasing before she is married. Then, when she sees 
things accomplished, she shows her malice for the first time; then 
appears every vice that she has; and then, when it will do him 
no good to repent, she makes the fool aware of her ways. I know 
quite certainly that, no matter how prudently his wife acts, there 
is no man, unless he is a fool, who does not repent when he feels 
himself married. 

‘“By Saint Denis! Worthy women, as Valerius bears witness, 8687 
are fewer than phoenixes. No man can love one but what she will 
pierce his heart with great fears and cares and other bitter mis- 
fortunes. Fewer than phoenixes? By my head, a more honest com- 
parison would say fewer than white crows, however beautiful 
their bodies may be. Nevertheless, whatever I say, and in order 
that those who are alive may not say that I attack all women 
with too great impunity, a worthy woman, if one wants to recog- 
nize her, either in the world or in the cloister, and if he wants 
to put in some toil in seeking her, is a rare bird on earth, so easily 
recognized that it is like the black swan. Even Juvenal confirms 
this idea when he reiterates it in a positive statement: “If you find 
a chaste wife, go kneel down in the temple, bow down to worship 
Jupiter, and put forth your effort to sacrifice a gilded cow to Juno, 
the honored lady, for nothing more wonderful ever happened to 
any creature.” 

“‘And if a man wants to love the wicked women — of whom, 8717 
according to Valerius, who is not ashamed to tell the truth, there 
are swarms, here and overseas, greater than those of the bees that 
gather in their hives — if he wants to love them, what end does he 

160 T he Overthrow of Treason 

expect to come to? He brings harm to himself by clinging to such 
a branch j he who clings to it, I well recall, will lose both soul 
and body. 

8727 “ ‘Valerius, who sorrowed because his companion Rufinus wanted 

to marry, made a stern speech to him: “My friend,” he said, “may 
omnipotent God keep you from ever being put into the snare of an 
all-powerful woman who smashes all things through cunning.” 
8735 “ ‘Juvenal himself writes to Postumus on his marriage: “Do you 

want to take a wife, Postumus? Can’t you find ropes, cords, or 
halters for sale? Can’t you jump out of one of the high windows 
that we can see? Or can’t you let yourself fall from the bridge? 
What Fury leads you to this torment and pain?” 

8745 “ ‘King Phoroneus himself, who, as we have learned, gave the 

Greek people their laws, spoke from his deathbed and said to his 
brother Leonce: “Brother, I reveal to you that I would have 
died happy if I had never married a wife.” And Leonce straight- 
way asked him the cause of that statement. “All husbands,” said 
Phoroneus, “test it and find it by experiment ; and when you have 
taken a wife, you will know it well in every detail.” 

8759 “ ‘Pierre Abelard, in turn, admits that Sister Heloise, abbess 

of the Paraclete and his former sweetheart, did not want to agree 
for anything that he take her as his wife. Instead, the young lady 
of good understanding, well educated, loving and well loved in 
return, brought up arguments to convince him not to marry ; and 
she proved to him with texts and reasons that the conditions of 
marriage are very hard, no matter how wise the wife may be. For 
she had seen, studied, and known the books, and she knew the 
feminine ways, for she had them all in herself. She asked him to 
love her but not to claim any right of her except those of grace and 
freedom, without lordship or mastery, so that he might study, en- 
tirely his own man, quite free, without tying himself down, and 
that she might also devote herself to study, for she was not 
8785 empty of knowledge. She told him also that in any case their joys 
were more pleasing and their comfort grew greater when they 
saw each other more rarely. But, as he has written for us, he loved 
her so much that he afterward married her in spite of her ad- 
monition, and unhappiness resulted. After she had taken the habit 
of a nun at Argenteuil — by agreement of both of them together, 
as it seems to me — Pierre’s testicles were removed, in his bed in 

The ^Advice of Friend 1 6 1 

Paris, at night; on this account he endured great suffering and 
torment. After this misfortune, he was a monk of Saint Denis in 
France, then abbot of another abbey; then, it says in his Life , he 
founded a widely known abbey that he named the Abbey of the 
Paraclete, where Heloise, who was a professed nun before, was 
abbess. She herself, without shame, in a letter to her lover, whom 
she loved so much that she called him father and lord, tells a 
wondrous thing that many consider demented. It is written in the 
letters, if you search the chapters well, that she sent to him by 
express, even after she was abbess: “If the emperor of Rome, to 
whom all men should be subject, deigned to wish to take me as 
his wife and make me mistress of the world, I still would rather,” 
she said, “and I call God to witness, be called your whore than 
be crowned empress.” But, by my soul, I do not believe that any 
such woman ever existed afterward; and I think that her learning 
put her in such a position that she knew better how to overcome 
and subdue her nature, with its feminine ways. If Pierre had be- 
lieved her, he would never have married her. 

“ ‘Marriage is an evil bond, so help me Saint Julian, who harbors 
wandering pilgrims, and Saint Leonard, who unshackles prisoners 
who are truly repentant, when he sees them lamenting. It would 
have been better for me to go hang, the day I had to take a wife, 
when I became acquainted with so quaint a woman. With such a 
coquette I am dead. For Saint Mary’s son, what is that quaintness 
worth to me, that costly, expensive dress that makes you turn your 
nose up, that is so long and trails behind you, that irks and vexes 
me so much, that makes you act so overbearing that I become mad 
with rage? What profit does it give me? No matter how much it 
profits others, it does me only harm; for when I want to divert 
myself with you, I find it so encumbering, so annoying and trouble- 
some that I can come to no result. You make me so many turns 
and parries with your arms, legs, and hips, and you go twisting so 
much that I cannot hold you properly. I don’t know how all this 
comes about, but I see very well that my love-making and my 
comforts are not pleasing to you. Even at night, when I lie down, 
before I receive you in my bed, as any worthy man does his wife, 
you have to undress yourself. On your head, your body, or your 
haunches you have only a head-covering of white cloth, with per- 
haps lace ornaments of blue or green, covered up underneath the 




1 62 The Overthrow of Treason 

head-covering. The dresses and the fur linings are then put on the 
pole to hang all night in the air. What can all that be worth to 
me then, except to sell or pawn? You will see me burn up and die 
with evil rage if I do not sell and pledge everything; for, since 
they give me such trouble by day and no diversion at night, what 
other profit can I expect of them except by selling or pawning 
them? And if you were to admit the truth, you are worth no more 
because of them, neither in intelligence, nor in loyalty, nor even, 
by God, in beauty. 

8889 “ ‘And if any man, to confound me, wanted to oppose me by 

replying that the bounties of good things go well with many 
different kinds of people and that beautiful apparel creates beauty 
in ladies and girls, then, no matter who said so in fact, I would 
reply that he lied. For the beauties of fair things, violets or roses, 
silk cloths or fleurs de lys y as I find it written in a book, are in 
themselves and not in ladies. All women should know that no 
woman will ever, as long as she lives, have anything except her 
natural beauty. And I say the same about goodness as I have told 
you about beauty. Thus, to begin my speech, I say that if one 
wanted to cover a dung-heap with silken cloths or little flowers, 
well-arranged and beautifully colored, it would certainly still be a 
dung-heap, whose custom it is to stink just as it did before. Some- 
one might want to say, “If the dung-heap is ugly within it appears 
more lovely without; and in just the same way the ladies apparel 
themselves in order to appear more beautiful or to hide their 
ugliness.” If someone were to say thus, I do not know, by my 
faith, how to reply, except to say that such deception comes from 
the maddened vision of eyes that see them in all their fine apparel. 
As a result, their hearts are led astray because of the pleasing im- 
pression of their imaginations, and they do not know how to recog- 
nize a lie or the truth, or how, for lack of clear vision, to explicate 

8931 the sophism. But if they had the eyes of a lynx, they would never, 
for any sable mantles, surcoats, or skirts, any head ornaments, 
kerchiefs, undergarments, or pelisses, for any jewels or objects of 
value, for any covert, smirking coquetries, if one considered them 
well, for any gleaming exteriors, which make them look artificial, 
and never for any chaplets of fresh flowers, would they seem to 
them to be beautiful. However well Nature had formed Alcibiades, 
whose body was always beautiful in color and molding, anyone 

The Advice of Friend 163 

who could see within him would want to consider him very ugly. 

So Boethius tells us, a man wise and full of worth, and he draws 
upon the testimony of Aristotle, who observes that the lynx has a 
gaze so strong, piercing, and clear that he sees all that one shows 
him, quite open both without and within. 

“ ‘Thus I say that in no epoch were Beauty and Chastity ever 8957 
at peace. Always there was such great strife that I have never 
heard it said or recounted in fable or song that anything could 
reconcile them. So mortal is the war between them that the one 
will never let the other hold a full foot of ground, provided that 
she might come out ahead. But things are very badly divided, 
since, with what Chastity received as her share, she knows so little 
of combat and parry when she attacks or defends herself that she 
has to surrender her arms; she has not the power to defend herself 
against Beauty, who is very cruel. Even Ugliness, Chastity’s cham- 
bermaid, who owes her honor and service, does not love or value 
her enough not to chase her from her mansion; she runs after her, 
on her neck the club that is so huge and weighs so much that it 
vexes her exceedingly as long as her mistress remains active for the 
total of a single hour. Chastity is in a very bad situation, since she 
is attacked from two directions and has no help from anywhere. 

She has to flee the field, for she sees that she is alone in the combat. 

Even if she had sworn it by her throat, she would have her fill of 8988 
struggle, and when everyone does battle against her, so that she 
cannot win, she would not dare to resist. Now cursed be Ugliness 
when she runs thus after Chastity, whom she should have defended 
and protected. If she could even have hidden her between her 
flesh and her shirt, she should have put her there. Beauty, also, is 
certainly very much to blame. She should have loved Chastity 
and, if it had pleased her, striven for peace between them. She 
should at least have done all she could to put herself in Chastity’s 
good graces, since, if she had been worthy, courteous, and wise, 
she should have indeed done homage to her, not brought shame 
and disgrace; for even the letter bears witness, in the sixth book of 
Virgil, by the authority of the Sibyl, that no man who lives a 
chaste life can come to damnation. 

“‘Therefore I swear by God, the celestial king, that a woman 9013 
who wants to be beautiful, or who exerts herself to appear beautiful, 
examines herself and takes great trouble to deck herself out and 

164 The Overthrow of Treason 

look attractive, because she wants to wage war on Chastity, who 
certainly has many enemies. In cloisters and abbeys all the women 
are sworn against her. They will never be so walled in that they 
do not hate Chastity so strongly that they all aspire to shame her. 
They all do homage to Venus, with no consideration for worth 
or harm; they primp and paint in order to fool those who look 
at them, and they go searching along through the streets in order 
to see, to be seen, and to arouse desire in people, so that they will 

9033 want to lie with them. Therefore they wear their finery to carols 
and churches, for not one of them would ever do so if she did not 
think that she would be seen and that she would thus more quickly 
give pleasure to those whom she could deceive. Certainly, if the 
truth be told, women give great shame to God. Misguided fools, 
they do not consider themselves rewarded with the beauty that 
God gives them. Each one has on her head a crown of flowers, 
of gold, or of silk. She preens herself and primps as she goes 
through the town showing herself off, and thus the unhappy 
wretch abases herself in a very wicked way when, to increase or 
perfect her beauty, she wants to draw onto her head an object lower 
and more base than she. Thus she goes around despising God 
because she considers him inadequate, and in her foolish heart she 
thinks to herself that God did her a great outrage in that, when he 
proportioned the beauty in her, he acquitted himself very negli- 
gently. Therefore she searches for beauty in creations that God 
made with much worse appearance, things like metals or flowers or 
other strange things. 

9063 “ ‘As for men, it is the same, without fail. If, to be more beauti- 

ful, we make chaplets and adornments for the beauties that God 
has put in us, we misbehave toward him when we do not consider 
ourselves rewarded by the beauty that he has given us above all 
creatures that are born. But I have no interest in such tricks. I 
want only enough clothing to protect myself from cold and heat. 
This homespun of mine, lined with lamb, protects my body and 
head against wind, rain, and storm just as well — may God protect 
me as truly — as would fine sky-blue cloth lined with squirrel. It 
seems to me that I lose my money when I buy you a dress of blue, 
of camelot, of brown or scarlet material and line it with squirrel 
or costly gray fur. To do so makes you run wild, simpering and 
posturing as you go through dust and mud, while you value neither 

The Advice of Friend 165 

God nor me. Even at night when you lie all naked beside me in 
my bed, you can’t be held, for when I want to embrace you to 
kiss you and comfort you, and when I am thoroughly warmed up, 
you sulk like a devil and do not want to turn your face toward 
me for anything that I may do. You pretend to be so sick, you 
sigh and complain so much and make so much resistance that I be- 
come so fearful that I don’t dare attack you again, when I wake 
up after I have slept, so great is my fear of failing. It strikes me as 
a very great wonder how those ribalds attain anything when, by 
day, they hold you with your clothes on, if you twist about in 
the same way when you play with them and if you give them as 
much trouble as you do to me, both day and night. But I believe 
that you have no desire, that instead you go along singing and 
dancing through the gardens and meadows with these unlawful 
rogues. They drag this married woman through the green grass 
with the dew on it and there they go along despising me and say- 
ing to each other, “It’s in spite of that dirty, jealous villain!” 
Now may the flesh and bones that have brought me such shame be 
given over to wolves and mad dogs! It is through you, lady slut, 
and through your wild ways, that I am given over to shame, you 
riotous, filthy, vile, stinking bitch. May your body never see the 
end of this year when you give it over to such curs! Through you 
and your lechery I am placed in the confraternity of Saint Ernoul, 
the patron of cuckolds, from whom no man with a wife, to my 
knowledge, can be safe, no matter how much he may go about to 
guard her and spy on her, even though he may have a thousand 
eyes. All women get themselves attacked, and there is no guard 
worth anything. If it happens that they omit the deed, they never 
are without the wish, by which, if they can, they will jump to the 
deed, for they always carry their desire with them. But Juvenal 
gives one great comfort for this situation when he says, of the need 
that is called a woman’s carnal need to be made happy, that it is 
the least of the sins by which the heart of a woman is stained, for 
their nature commands each of them to give her attention to doing 
worse. Do we not see how the mothers-in-law cook up poisons for 
their sons-in-law, how they work charms and sorceries and so many 
other diabolical things that, no matter how stout his powers of 
thought, no man could count them? 

“ ‘All you women are, will be, and have been whores, in fact or 




1 66 The Overthrow of Treason 

in desire, for, whoever could eliminate the deed, no man can con- 
strain desire. All women have the advantage of being mistresses 
of their desires. For no amount of beating or upbraiding can one 
change your hearts, but the man who could change them would 
have lordship over your bodies. 

“ ‘Now let us leave what cannot be. But O! fair sweet God, 
fair celestial king, what can I do with the rascals who thus shame 
me and oppose me? If I happen to threaten them, how seriously 
will they take my threat? If I go to fighting with them, they 
can kill me or beat me straightway, so cruel and unprincipled, so 
eager to do all sorts of wickedness, so young and handsome, wild 
and headstrong are they. They will think me not worth a straw, 
for youth so enflames them, filling their hearts with fire and flame 
and inciting them, by necessity, to foolish, light, and giddy deeds, 
that each one thinks himself Roland, indeed Hercules or Samson. 

“ ‘These latter two, as men think — it is written and I recall it — 
had strong bodily resemblances. According to the author Solinus, 
this Hercules was seven feet tall, and no man, as he said, could 
ever attain a greater height. Hercules had many struggles: he con- 
quered twelve horrible monsters, and when he had overcome the 
twelfth he could never finish with the thirteenth, his sweetheart 
Dei'aneira, who, with her poisonous shirt, lacerated his flesh, all 
enflamed by the poison. His heart had already been made mad with 
love for Iole. Thus Hercules, who had so many virtues, was sub- 
dued by woman. 

“ ‘In the same way Samson, who, if he had had his hair, would 
have feared ten men no more than ten apples, was deceived by 
Dalila. I commit nothing but folly in saying these things, for I 
know very well that when you leave me you will recount, one after 
the other, all the things that I say. You will go crying to those 
wretches, and, if you ever can go to them, you can have my head 
laid open, my thighs smashed, or my shoulders gashed. But if I 
can hear word of it before it happens and if my arms are not held 
or my pestle removed, I will break your ribs. Neither friends, 
neighbors, nor relatives will ever be protection for you, nor your 
lechers themselves. Alas! Why did we ever see each other? Alas! 
in what an hour was I born, when you consider me so vile that 
these wretched stinking curs, who go around flattering and caress- 
ing you, are thus your lords and masters! I should have been 

The ‘Advice of Friend 167 

their lord, since I support you, buy your shoes and clothes, and 
feed you, while you make me share with these dirty scoundrels, 
these rascals who bring you nothing but shame. They have robbed 9236 
you of your reputation, of which you take no care when you hold 
them in your arms. In front of you they say that they love you, but 
behind your back they call you a whore. When they are again to- 
gether, they tell what seems worse to them, how each of them 
serves you. I know their tales very well, and, without fail, it is 
true that when you lie in their power they indeed know how to 
put you to it, for there is no resistance whatever in you when 
you are entered into the crowd where each one stabs you repeatedly 
and tramples on you. My faith, I am overcome with envy of their 
comfortable life. But know, and remember well, that all this is 
not on account of your body or the pleasure they get from you; 
instead, they do so only to have the delight of the jewels, the 
golden buckles and buttons, the robes and pelisses that I, like a 
foolish simpleton, allow you. For when you go off to the carols or 
to your silly gatherings and I remain like a drunken fool, you carry 
a hundred pounds worth of gold and silver on your head; and 
you order people to dress you in camelot, squirrel, and gray fur 
so that I quite pine away with anger and anxiety, so chagrined 
and tormented am I. 

“ ‘What are they worth to me, these head ornaments, these coifs 9271 
with golden bands, these decorated head-laces, the ivory mirrors, 
these well-formed circlets of gold with precious enameling, and 
these crowns of fine gold, all these things that give you such a 
bawdy appearance? These crowns are so fine, so well-polished, with 
so many beautiful gems, sapphires, rubies, and emeralds, that I 
cannot cease raging. These golden buckles with fine stones, at your 
sides and on your bosom, these precious materials, and these belts 
whose mountings are so expensive, as much for gold as for seed 
pearls— what are such baubles worth to me? Besides, you wear your 9289 
shoes so tight that you often raise your dress to show your feet 
to those knaves. So may Saint Thibaut comfort me, I shall sell 
everything within three days, and I shall consider you dirt be- 
neath my feet. By God J s body, no matter who moans and com- 
plains, you shall have nothing from me but a coat and surcoat and 
a hempen kerchief, not fine but coarse and badly woven, torn 
and mended. And by my head, you will be well belted, but I will 

1 68 The Overthrow of Treason 

tell you with what kind of belt: one of plain leather without a 
buckle. You will also have big shoes made out of my old boots, 
wide enough to stuff with large rags. You will take off those 
baubles that give you the occasion for committing fornication, and 
you will no longer go out to display yourself in order to get your- 
self thrown to the ground underneath those rascals. 

9313 “ ‘But now tell me without making up any lies. Where, for 

the sake of love, did you get that other rich new dress in which 
you fixed yourself up here the other day when you went to the 
carols, for I know very well that I am right to think that I never 
gave it to you. You swore to me by Saint Denis, Saint Philibert, 
and Saint Peter that it came to you through your mother, who sent 
you the cloth for it because, as you gave me to understand, her 
love for me is so great that she wants to spend her money in order 
to make me keep mine. May she be spitted alive, that dirty old 
whore, the priest’s concubine, that mackerel, that pimping whore, 
and may you, for your merits, fry along with her, if the case is 
not exactly as you say. I would certainly ask her, but I would 
exert myself in vain; the whole thing would not be worth a ball to 
9337 me: like mother, like daughter. I know that you have talked to- 
gether, and it is obvious that you both have hearts touched by the 
same wand. I know which foot you jump with, and that dirty 
painted old whore agrees with your attitude; she used to act in 
the same way. She has followed so many roads that she has been 
bitten by many curs. But now, I know, her looks are so bad that 
she can make nothing by herself, and so now she sells you. Three 
or four times a week she comes in here and leads you out on the 
pretext of new pilgrimages according to her old customs — for I 
know the whole plan — and then she doesn’t stop parading you, 
as one does with a horse for sale, while she grabs and teaches you 
to grab. Do you think that I don’t know you well? Somebody 
hold me so that I don’t break your bones with this pestle or this 
spit until you are like a pate of baby chicks.’ 

9361 “Then the jealous husband, sweating with anger, may seize her 
straightway by the hair and pull and tug her, break and tear her 
hair and grow mad with rage over her. A lion’s rage at a bear 
would be nothing in comparison. In anger and rage, he drags 
her through the whole house and vilifies her foully. His intent 
is so evil that he doesn’t want to hear excuses on any oath. Instead 

The ^Advice of Friend 169 

he hits her, beats her, thumps her, and knocks her about while 
she gives out howls and cries and sends her voice flying on the 
winds past windows and roofs. She reproaches him in every way 
she knows how, just as it comes into her mouth, in front of the 
neighbors who come there. The neighbors think them both crazy $ 
with great difficulty they take her away from him while he is out 
of breath. 

“When the lady feels this torment and takes account of this 
riot and this diverting viol on which our jongleur plays to her, 
do you think that she will ever love him more? She would want 
him to be at Meaux, indeed in Romagna. I will say more; I don’t 
think that she might ever want to love him. She might pretend, 
but if he could fly up to the clouds or raise his view so high that 
from there, without falling, he could see all the deeds of men, 
and if he reflected upon all at leisure, he still would have to choose 
into which peril he fell, and he has not seen all the frauds that a 
woman knows how to meditate in order to protect and defend 
herself. Afterward, if he sleeps in her company, he puts his life 
in very great peril. Indeed, sleeping and waking, he must fear 
most strongly that, in order to avenge herself, she may have him 
poisoned or hacked into pieces, or make him languish in a life of 
desperate ruses. Or he must fear that, if she cannot play any other 
way, she may take it into her head to flee. A woman values neither 
honor nor shame when anything rises up in her head; this is the 
truth without doubt. A woman has no reason whatever. Valerius 
even claims that, toward whatever she hates and whatever she 
loves, a woman is bold, cunning, and studious of bringing injury 
to others. 

“My friend, consider this mad jealous boor — may his flesh be 
fed to the wolves — so filled with his jealousy, as I have described 
him for you here in this story. He makes himself lord over his 
wife, who, in turn, should not be his lady but his equal and his 
companion, as the law joins them together ; and, for his part, he 
should be her companion without making himself her lord or 
master. Do you think that, when he arranges such torments for her 
and does not consider her his equal but rather makes her live in such 
distress, he will not be displeasing to her and that the love be- 
tween them will not fail? Yes indeed, without fail, whatever she 
says, he will not be loved by his wife if he wants to be called 



170 The Overthrow of Treason 

‘lord/ for love must die when lovers want lordship. Love cannot 
endure or live if it is not free and active in the heart. 

9443 “For this same reason we see that those who at first are accus- 
tomed to love each other far amour may, after they want to marry 
each other, find that love can hardly ever hold them together; 
for when the man loved far amour he would proclaim himself his 
sweetheart’s sergeant, and she grew used to being his mistress. Now 
he calls himself lord and master over her whom he called his 
lady when she was loved far amour” 

“Loved?” I said. 

9455 “Truly,” he replied. 

“In what way?” I asked. 

9456 “In such that if, without entreaty, she were to command him, 
‘Jump, lover,’ or ‘Give me that thing,’ he would immediately 
give it and jump when she ordered him to. In fact, whatever she 
might say, he would jump so that she might see him, for he had 
placed his whole desire in doing all her pleasure. But then after 
they have married each other, as I have told you, the wheel is 
turned, so that he who was in the habit of serving her now com- 
mands her to serve him, just as if she were his slave, and he holds 
her with a short rein and orders her to give an account of her 
doings. And he used to call her his lady! He who has not learned 
this truth is hardly dying. Then she considers herself ill-used 
when she sees herself thus attacked by the best, most trusted man 
that she found in the world, the man who thus wants to oppose 
her. When she sees her master on her neck, the man against whom 
she never took any precaution, she does not know whom to trust. 
The verse is changed for the worse. Now that he has changed the 
dice on her, the throws are so different, so cruel and strange, that 
she cannot and dare not play. How can she be happy? If she does 
not obey, he gets angry and berates her, and she grumbles. There 
they are, fallen into anger and straightway through anger be- 
come enemies. 

9493 “It was for this reason, my friend, that the ancients maintained 
their friendship for each other without bonds of servitude, peace- 
ably, and without boorishness, and they did not give away their 
freedom for the gold of Araby or Friesland, for he who wanted 
to take all gold for it could not very well sell it. At that time 
there was no pilgrimage: no man went out from his own shores to 

The ^Advice of Friend 17 1 

search for a foreign country. Jason had not yet passed over the 
sea, and he was the first to do so when he organized the ships for 
the journey to seek the Golden Fleece. When Neptune saw the 
ships sailing along, he thought for certain that he was captured in 
war. Triton, too, had to puff his cheeks with rage; and Doris and 
all her daughters, because of the marvelous tricks, thought that 
they were all betrayed, so greatly were they dumbfounded by the 
ships that flew over the sea just as the sailors wished them to. 

a But the first of which I tell you did not know the value of 9517 
navigation. In their own country they found everything that 
seemed good to seek. All were equally rich, and they loved each 
other lawfully. Thus they lived peacefully together, for these 
simple people of good life loved each other naturally. At that 
time there was no simony in love; one did not demand something 
from another. Then Fraud came, with his lance at rest, and Sin 
and Misfortune, who take no heed of Sufficiency, and along with 
them came Pride, equally disdainful in her grand array, Covet- 
ousness, Avarice, Envy, and all the other vices. Then they all 
made Poverty spring up from hell, where she had been so long 
that no man knew anything of her, for she had never been on 
earth. Coming so quickly, she came at a bad time, for her arrival 
was a thing of great evil. 

Poverty, who has no comfort whatever, led her son Larceny, 9541 
who beats out his path to the gibbet in order to bring help to his 
mother; and sometimes he gets himself hanged, for his mother 
cannot protect him, any more than his father Faint Heart, who 
from sorrow remains in a very bad situation. Not even Made- 
moiselle Laverne, the goddess of thieves, who guides and rules 
robbers, who shrouds night’s sins in darkness and covers deceit with 
clouds so that its workings do not appear without until in the end 
they are found out and captured with complete proof — even La- 
verne has not so much pity, when these thieves stand with ropes 
on their necks, that she ever wants to protect them, no matter 
how well they know how to repent. 

"Immediately these wretched devils, excited by fury, sorrow, 9561 
anger, and envy when they saw men leading such a life, rushed 
off through all countries, sowing discord, contention and war, 
slander, rancor, and hatred through anger and quarreling. Because 
they held gold dear, they had the earth flayed for it, and they 

172 'The Overthrow of Treason 

drew out its bowels for its old deposits of metals and precious 
stones that make men grow envious. For Avarice and Covetousness 
established in the hearts of men the burning desire to acquire pos- 
sessions. The latter acquires them and the former locks them up, 
and the wretched slave will never spend them as long as she lives, 
but instead will make her heirs and executors the principal guard- 
ians of her possessions, if some misfortune does not happen. And 
if she goes off to her damnation, no one of them, I think, will 
ever mourn for her ; but if she has done well they may take these 

9587 “As soon as this troop had played its evil trick, men abandoned 
their first life, and after that they did not cease doing evil, for they 
became false and treacherous. Then they held properties, and they 
even divided up the earth and made boundaries to show the divi- 
sions. They fought each other many times when they set up their 
boundaries, and they carried off what they could. The strongest 
held the largest portions, and when they ran about seeking more 
possessions, the idle ones who remained behind would enter their 
caves and steal what they had amassed. Then they had to seek out 
someone who would guard their dwellings, catch wrongdoers, and 
give justice to complainants without anyone daring to contradict 
him. Therefore they assembled to elect some one. 

9609 “They elected a great scoundrel among them, the one who was 
largest, with the strongest back and limbs, and made him their 
prince and lord. He swore that he would maintain justice for 
them and would protect their dwellings if each one individually 
were to hand over to him enough goods to enable him to support 
himself. They agreed thus among themselves as he suggested, and 
he held this office for a long time. When the robbers, full of 
malice, saw him alone, they got together and beat him on many 
occasions when they came to steal. Then the people had to assem- 
ble again and urge, each one for himself, that the prince be given 
sergeants. Then, collectively, they taxed themselves and gave him 
tribute, revenues, and large holdings of land. From this source, 
according to the writings of the ancients, arose the first kings and 
earthly princes 3 for we know the deeds of the ancients by the writ- 
ings that we have, and we should give them thanks and praise for 
what they have left. 

9637 “Then the people amassed treasures of silver, gold, and gems. 

The ^Advice of Friend 173 

Out of gold and silver, because they were both precious and worka- 
ble, they made vessels, money, clasps, rings, buttons, and belts. 

To fight battles with their neighbors, they forged iron weapons, 
knives, swords, halberds, glaives, and armor. They made towers, 
entrenchments, and walls of squared stone. Those who assembled 
their treasures enclosed castles and cities and built large decorated 
palaces, for they all trembled with fear on account of the treasures 
that they had amassed, because they might be stolen from them or 
carried off by some force. The sorrows of the captives of misfortune 
increased so that they were never afterward secure. When they 
bound themselves to riches, they appropriated what had been com- 
mon property before, like the sun and the moon, until now one 
person has more than twenty others. Such a situation never came 
from a good heart. 

“Without question, I would not give two buttons for such greedy 9665 
scoundrels. No matter how much they lacked good hearts, such a 
fault would mean nothing to me. Indeed, they could love each 
other, hate each other, or sell their love to one another. But it is a 
great sorrow and shame when these ladies with bright faces, these 
pretty, joyous women, who should value lawful love and defend 
it, are sold into such great filth. That a noble heart could sell itself 
is too ugly a thing to understand. 

“But, however that may be, the young man should see that he 9679 
doesn’t neglect his study of arts and sciences, in order that, if need 
arises, he may have security and protection for himself and his 
sweetheart, so that she would not abandon him. Such a course 
can advance a young man, and, in any case, it cannot do him harm. 

“Next, he must also remember to hold to this counsel of mine: 9687 

if he has a sweetheart, young or old, and knows and thinks that 
she wants to find another lover, or has already looked for one, he 
should not blame her or criticize her for seeking or acquiring them, 
but should recapture her by being friendly, without reproaching 
or vilifying her. Moreover, the less to estrange her, if he finds her 
even in the act, he should take care not to open his eyes in that 
direction. He should pretend to be blind, or more stupid than a 
buffalo, so that she may think it entirely true that he could detect 
nothing. And if anyone sends her a letter he should not interpose 
by reading it or looking it over or trying to find out their secrets. 

“His heart should never desire to go against her will. Instead, 



97 2 5 



174 The Overthrow of Treason 

he should make her very welcome when she comes from any 
street. And she should be allowed to go wherever she wants, just 
as her desires turn her, for she doesn’t want to be tied down. 

“Now I want you to know thoroughly what I want to tell you 
next. One ought to study it in a book: anyone who wants to have 
a woman’s grace must always give her space, must never hold her 
to a rule, but rather let her go and come according to her wish. 
For he who wants to hold her back so that she may neither go 
nor come, whether she is his wife or his mistress, has immediately 
lost her love. 

“He must never believe anything against her, no matter how 
certain he may be of it, but he should tell the men or women 
who bring him the news that what they said was foolish, that they 
never saw so worthy a woman, always doing good without ceasing, 
and that therefore no man should mistrust her. 

“He should not reproach her with her vices, nor beat nor touch 
her j for he who wants to beat his wife in order the better to en- 
trench himself in her love when, afterward, he wants to pacify 
her, is the same man who, in order to tame his cat, beats it and 
then calls it back to tie it up. But if the cat can jump away, he 
may fail to capture it. 

“If the woman beats the man or vilifies him, he should take 
care that his heart does not change. If he sees himself beaten or 
reviled, even if she should pull out his nails alive, he must not 
take revenge, but rather thank her and say that he would like to 
live in such martyrdom all the time, as long as he knew that his 
service was pleasing to her, indeed that he would rather even 
quite freely die at that moment than live without her. And if 
it happens that he may strike her because she seems to him too 
haughty and has made him very angry by grumbling at him so 
much or, perhaps, by wishing to threaten him, then immediately, 
to purchase peace, he must take care to play the game of Love 
before she leaves the place. The poor man must particularly do so, 
for she could leave a poor man immediately, for the slightest cause, 
if she didn’t see him bow down toward her. A poor man must love 
wisely and must suffer very humbly, without a sign of anger or 
ire, whatever he sees her either do or say ; he must do so especially 
more than the rich man, who perhaps would not give two chick-peas 
for her hauteur or resistance if he could indeed revile her. 

The ^Advice of Friend 175 

“And if he is such that he doesn’t want to maintain his fidelity 
to his sweetheart but, while he would not wish to lose her, wants 
to form an attachment with another, and if he wants to give his 
new mistress a kerchief or head-cloth, chaplet, ring, clasp, belt, or a 
jewel of any shape, then he must take care that his first sweetheart 
does not recognize these things, for her heart would be full of 
anguish when she saw the other wearing them; nothing could 
comfort her. Let him take care also that he does not have the 
second come to the same place where the first one met him and 
where she is accustomed to come, for if she comes — provided that 
she discovers the second — there is nothing which can provide any 
counsel. There is no old wild boar, with his bristles erect when 
he is excited by dogs, that is so cruel, nor any lioness as sullen or 
cruel when the hunter who is attacking her presses his attack at 
the moment when she is feeding her cubs, nor is there any serpent 
as malicious, when one steps on its tail (the serpent does not enjoy 
being stepped on), as a woman when she finds his new mistress 
with her lover. She spouts fire and flame everywhere, and she is 
ready to lose both body and soul. 

“And if she hasn’t captured the two of them together in their 
nest, but falls into jealousy over it, because she knows or thinks 
that she is deceived, then, however it may be, whether she knows or 
believes, let him take care never to cease denying quite openly 
what she knows for certain, and let him not be slow to swear his 
innocence. Immediately, on the spot, he must again make her 
endure the game of Love. Then he will be free of her clamors. 

“And if she attacks him and vexes him so much that he has 
to confess to her and does not, perhaps, know how to protect 
himself, he should then, if possible, bend his efforts toward forcing 
her to believe that he did so in self-defense. For (he will say) 
the other woman held him so close and led him such a difficult 
time that he could never escape until he had performed the act; 
moreover (he will go on), it never happened except that once. 
Then he swears and pledges and promises that it will never happen 
again, and that he will conduct himself so faithfully that if she 
ever hears a word of that kind of thing, he wants her to kill him 
or beat him to death. She would prefer that the other woman, 
that unlawful perverter of vows, should be harmed so that he 
would never come to the place where she held him in such an 




176 The Overthrow of Treason 

embrace, for if it then happened that she ordered him, he would 
not go at her bidding nor, if possible, allow her to come to a 
place where she might hold him. Then he must embrace her close, 
kiss her, flatter her, and comfort her; he must beg her mercy for 
his misdeed and promise never to do it again. He must say that 
he is truly repentant, ready to perform any penance that she can 
prescribe, after she has pardoned him. Then, if she wants to pardon 
him, let him do love’s duty. 

9853 “Let him not boast about her so that she might become down- 
cast. Many men have thus boasted with false and feigned words 
about women whose bodies they could not possess j they blackened 
their names most wrongfully. But indeed, they lack hearts ; they 
are neither courteous nor valiant. Boasting is a very base vice; he 
who boasts commits great folly, for, even though he had done 
something, he should in any case have hidden it. Love wants to 
hide his treasures, except from loyal companions who also want 
to keep them quiet and hide them 5 there one may indeed reveal 

9869 “Now if she falls sick it is right, if possible, for him to study how 
to be of greatest service to her so that afterward he will be better 
received. He should take care not to harbor any grudge over the 
drawn-out illness. He should stay near her, watching, kiss her 
with tears in his eyes, and, if he is wise, vow many distant pil- 
grimages — as long as she hears his vows. He must not forbid food 
to her, nor offer her something bitter or anything that is not 
sweet and tender. 

9883 “He must pretend to have unusual dreams, all stuffed with 
pleasing falsehoods. Let him say that when night comes and he 
lies all alone on his bed in his room, it seems to him, when he 
sleeps — for he sleeps but little and is often awake — that she was 
completely healthy and cured, and that all night long and through 
the day, in delightful places, he held her all naked in his arms in 
the solace of love-making. He should tell her such fables or 
similar ones. 

9895 “Now, up to this point, I have sung to you of how he who 
wants to merit the favor of women and prolong their love, but 
who wants to be free to change his mind and would not wish to 
give great attention to doing whatever pleases them, should serve 
them in sickness and in health. For no woman will ever know so 

'T he Advice of Friend 177 

much or be so firm of heart, so loyal or serious, that one could 
ever be certain of holding her, no matter how much trouble one 
took, any more than if one held an eel by the tail in the Seine; for 
he hasn’t the power to prevent her saving herself, so that imme- 
diately she will have escaped, however strongly he might seize 
her. There is no animal so well trained that is always ready to 
flee; she has so many different changes that no man should have 
confidence in her. 

“I do not say these things on account of good women, who 
establish restraints through their virtues; but I have not yet found 
any, however many I may have tested. Not even Solomon could 
find them, no matter how well he knew how to test them, for he 
himself affirms that he never found a stable woman. And if you 
take the trouble to seek one and find her, take her; you will have 
the pick of sweethearts, one who will be wholly yours. If she 
doesn’t have the possibility of running about looking, so that she 
might provide for herself elsewhere, or if she does not find some- 
one who will solicit her, such a woman will give herself up to 

“Now I want to say another brief word before I leave this sub- 
ject. In short, a man who wants to keep the love of any girl, 
whatever she may be, ugly or beautiful, must observe this com- 
mandment of mine, and he should remember it always and con- 
sider it very precious: let him give any girl to understand that he 
cannot protect himself against her, so dumbfounded and amazed 
is he by her beauty and worth, for there is no woman, however 
good she may be, old, young, worldly or cloistered, no lady so 
religious, however chaste of body or soul, who does not take delight 
in hearing someone go about praising her beauty. No matter how 
ugly she may be called, one should swear that she is more beau- 
tiful than a fairy; one may do so securely, since she will easily 
believe him, for every woman, I know well, thinks of herself as 
one so beautiful, however ugly she may be proven, that she is in- 
deed worthy to be loved. 

“Thus should all handsome, worthy, and noble young men be 
diligent in keeping their sweethearts, without criticizing them for 
their follies. Women do not care for correction; instead, they 
have minds so constructed that it seems to them that they do not 
need to be taught their trade. And no man who doesn’t want to 



178 The Overthrow of Treason 

displease them should dissuade them from anything that they want 
to do. Just as the cat knows by nature the science of catching, and 
cannot be diverted from it, because he is always born with such 
a faculty and was never put to school to learn it, just so a woman, 
however foolish she is, knows by her natural judgment that, what- 
ever excess she commits, good or bad, wrong or right, or whatever 
you wish, she does nothing that she should not, and she hates 
whoever corrects her. She does not get this faculty from a teacher, 
but has had it from the time that she could be born, and she cannot 
be dissuaded from it. She is always born with such a faculty so 
that anyone who wished to correct her would never enjoy her love. 

“So it is, companion, with your rose, which is such a precious 
thing that you would not take any possession for it if you could 
have it. When you are in possession of it, as your hope foretells, and 
your joy overflows, then take care of it in the way that one should 
take care of such a little flower. Then you will enjoy the little 
love with which no other compares ; you will not find its equal in 
perhaps fourteen cities.” 

“Indeed,” I said, “that’s true; not in the world, I am sure, so 
good was, and is, its power to bring happiness.” 



Thus Friend comforted me. I took great comfort from his coun- 
sel, and it seemed to me, indeed, that he knew at least more than 
Reason did. But before he had finished his argument, which agreed 
strongly with me, Sweet Thought and Sweet Talk came back, and 
from then on they stayed close to me and hardly ever left me 
afterward. But they did not bring Sweet Looks ; I did not blame 
them for having left him, for I knew well that they couldn’t 
bring him. 

I took leave and left, and at length I went off all alone across 
the meadow, bright with grass and flowers, enjoying myself and 
listening to those sweet birds singing those new songs. Their sweet 
songs, which so pleased me, filled my heart with all good things. 
But Friend had burdened me with one thing when he ordered 
me to turn and flee from the castle and not to go and play around 
it. I did not know if I could keep myself away, for I always 
wanted to go there. 

After my departure then, I made my way to the left, avoiding 
the right hand, to seek the shortest road. I would willingly seek 
such a road, and if it were found, I would throw myself onto it 
completely unreined, with no denial, unless someone stronger op- 
posed me, to draw Fair Welcoming, the open, sweet, good-natured 
one, from prison. As soon as I saw the castle weaker than a 
toasted cake, and the gate open, no one would stop me; indeed 
I would certainly have the devil in my stomach if I did not 
capture it and enter therein. Then Fair Welcoming would be lib- 
erated. I would not take a hundred thousand pounds for it — I can 
truly declare it to you — if I could establish myself on that road. 
In any case, I drew away from the castle, but not very far. 

As I was thinking of the new rose in a beautiful, very delightful 
place near a clear fountain, I saw an honorable lady of high 


1001 5 






1 80 T he Overthrow of Treason 

rank, pleasant of body, with a beautiful figure, standing beneath 
the shade of an elm tree with her lover beside her. I do not know 
his name, but hers was Wealth, and she was a lady of great no- 
bility. She guarded the entry to a little path, but she had not 
entered it. As soon as I saw them, I bowed toward them and 
saluted them with bent head. They returned my greeting imme- 
diately, but that did me little good. In any case, I asked them the 
right way to Give-Too-Much. Wealth, who spoke first, told me 
in a speech that was somewhat haughty: 

“Here is the road. I am guarding it.” 

“Ah! Lady, may God protect you. Then I pray you, as long 
as it does not burden you, to allow me to go by this way to the 
newly built castle that Jealousy established.” 

“Vassal,” she said, “that will not take place now, for I still 
know nothing of you. You are not well-arrived, since you are not 
one of my close friends. I will not set you within that way before 
perhaps ten years. No man, even though he is from Paris or Amiens, 
enters there if he is not close to me. I let my friends go there in- 
deed, to carol and dance in balls, and they have a little gay life, but 
no wise man envies them for it. There they are served with gay 
times, with farandoles and espingueries, tabors and viols, new 
rotruenges, with games of dice, chess, and backgammon, and with 
all my immoderate delights. Young men and girls go there, 
brought together by old mackerel-procuresses, and explore the 
meadows, gardens, and groves, gayer than parrots. Then, with 
chaplets of flowers on their heads, they go back together to the 
stews and bathe together in tubs all prepared in the rooms of the 
house of Foolish Generosity. She makes them poor and wounds 
them so that afterward they can hardly be cured. She knows how 
to sell to them at a high price and make them pay for her service 
and her hospitality; she takes from them so cruel a tribute that they 
have to sell their lands before they can turn the whole fee over 
to her. When I take them there they are full of great joy, but 
when Poverty brings them back they are cold, trembling, and 
quite bare. I keep the entry and she the exit. I can never interfere 
with them, no matter how wise or learned they may be. They can 
go to the devil, thousands of them in the end. 

“I do not say that, if they did so much as to reconcile them- 
selves with me afterward — but that would be a very difficult thing 

101 19 

The ^Assault on the Qastle 1 8 1 

— I would never be so tired that I would not lead them back to 
the path again every time that it pleased them, but you know that 
the more they frequent it the more they repent in the end ; because 
of their shame they dare not look at me. They are so angry and 
so full of chagrin that each of them is just short of killing himself, 
and I abandon them because they abandon me. I promise you for 
certain, without lying, that you will come to repent too late if you 
ever put your feet there. No bear, when he is thoroughly baited, 
is so wretched, so prostrated, as you will be if you go there. If 
Poverty can get you in her power, she will make you give so much 
that she will let you die of hunger on a little stubble or hay. 
Hunger was formerly Poverty’s chambermaid and served her in 
such a way that for her service, in which Hunger was eager and 
ardent, Poverty taught her all sorts of malice and made her the 
mistress and nurse of Larceny, the ugly young fellow. She nursed 
him with her own milk and had no other pap to feed him. Her 
situation, if you want to know it, is neither soft nor on good earth ; 
Hunger lives in a stony field where neither grain, grove, nor 
thicket grows. This field lies at the end of Scotland, so cold that 
a little more and it would be marble. Hunger, who sees neither 
grain nor trees, tears out the very grass with cutting nails, with 
hard teeth, but, because of the thickly scattered rocks, she finds 
the grass very sparse. And if I wanted to describe her, I could 
be quickly free of that task. 

“She is long and lean, weak and hollow, and in great want from 
a diet of oat-bread. Her hair is all bristly, her eyes hard and hol- 
low, her face pale and her lips dry, her cheeks soiled with dirt. 
Whoever wanted to could see her entrails through her hard skin. 
Along her flanks, where all humors are lacking, her bones stick 
out, and she has no stomach whatever, only the place for it, which 
goes in so deep that the girl’s whole chest hangs on her backbone. 
Her leanness has elongated her fingers and made her knees lose 
their roundness. Her heels are tall, sharp, and prominent; it looks 
as though there is no flesh on them, so closely does the lean skin 
hold to them. The goddess of the harvest, Ceres, who makes the 
grain grow, does not know how to keep to that road; nor does 
he who guides her dragons, Triptolemus, know that way. The 
Fates, who do not want the goddess of fertility and the exhausted 
sufferer, Hunger, to join themselves together, keep them apart 





1023 1 



182 The Overthrow of Treason 

from each other. But when Poverty takes hold of you she will lead 
you there soon enough if you want to go in that direction and be 
idle, as is your habit. In any case one can certainly turn toward 
Poverty by other ways than by that which I guard here 5 one can 
come to Poverty through an idle, lazy life. If it pleased you to 
stick to the way I have told you about here, the one toward ex- 
hausted, hateful Poverty, in order to attack the strong castle, you 
could indeed fail to capture it. 

“But I think it certain that Hunger will be your close neighbor, 
for Poverty knows the road better by heart than by parchment 
instructions. Furthermore, you should know that Hunger the 
wretched is always so attentive and courteous toward her mistress — 
whom she neither loves nor values, even though she is supported 
by her, however exhausted and naked she may be — that she comes 
to see her every day and sit with her. She takes her by the beak 
and, uncomfortable and uneasy, kisses her. Then, when she sees 
Larceny asleep, she takes him by the ear and wakens him. In her 
distress she leans toward him and counsels and teaches him how he 
must get things for them, however much he may have to endure 
for them. And Faint Heart agrees with them, although he dreams 
in any case of the rope, and the thought makes his hair stand 
straight out on end for fear that he may see them hang his son 
Larceny, the trembler, if they can catch him stealing. 

“But you will never enter here. Seek your road elsewhere, for 
you have not served me so well that you have deserved my love.” 

“Lady,” I said, “before God, if I could I would willingly have 
your grace. As soon as I entered upon that path, I would release 
Fair Welcoming from the prison within which he is held. If it 
please you, give me this gift.” 

“I have understood you well,” she said, “and I know that you 
have not sold all your woods, the great and the small; you have 
held out a beech, and no man can live without folly as long as he 
may want to follow Love. As long as men live in such madness, 
they think that they are very wise. Live! Indeed, they do not do 
so; rather they die while they dwell in such torment, for one 
should not give the name life to such madness and folly. Indeed 
Reason knew what to tell you, but she could not cure you of your 
stupidity. You know that when you did not believe her you de- 
ceived yourself cruelly; in fact, before Reason came to you there 

The ^Assault on the Qastle 183 

was nothing that held you back, and never afterward, from the 
time that you loved far amour , did you consider me worth any- 
thing. Lovers do not want to value me; instead they strain them- 
selves to disparage my goods when I take them away from them, 
and they reject them elsewhere. Where the devil could one get 
whatever a lover wanted to spend? Flee from here, and leave me 
in peace.” 

Since I could conquer nothing there, I left without delay. The 
beautiful lady remained with her lover, who was well dressed and 
adorned. With my thoughts in a turmoil, I went off through the 
delicious garden, as beautiful and precious as you have heard be- 
fore; but I took very little delight in this beauty, for I had put all 
my thought elsewhere. In all times and in all places I thought in 
what way, without pretense, I would best perform my duty of 
service, for I would very willingly have done it without fault in 
anything; if I had committed any fault whatever, my value 
would not have grown in any way as a result. 

My heart held close to and watched over what Friend had ad- 
vised me. I constantly showed honor to Foul Mouth in all the 
places where I found him, and I set myself to showing great 
honor to all my other enemies, and I served them with my might. 
I don’t know if I deserved their thanks, but to gain their esteem 
I restrained myself from daring to approach the enclosure as I 
was accustomed to do, for I always wanted to go there. Thus for 
a long time I performed my penance with such a conscience as 
God knows, for I did one thing and thought another. In this way 
I had a double intention, but it was never I, on any occasion, 
who made it double. I had to pursue treason to gain my end. I 
had never been a traitor, never yet incriminated myself to anyone. 

When Love had tested me thoroughly and saw that he had 
found me loyal, as loyal in every way as I ought to be toward 
him, he appeared and, smiling at my discomfort, put his hand on 
my head and asked if I had done whatever he commanded, how 
it was with me and how it seemed to me with the rose that had 
stolen my heart. He knew very well, of course, all that I had 
done, for God knows the whole of whatever man does. 

“Have you performed all the commandments,” he asked, “that 
I give to pure lovers? I do not want to distribute them elsewhere, 
and pure lovers should never depart from them.” 





184 The Overthrow of Treason 

10323 “I do not know, sir, but I have done them as loyally as I know 

10325 “True, but you are too changeable. Your heart is not very 
steadfast, but unfortunately full of doubt ; indeed I know the 
whole truth about it. The other day you wanted to leave me. You 
were just a little short of robbing me of the homage due me, and 
you made a sorrowful complaint about Idleness and me. Moreover, 
you said of Hope that she was not certain in her knowledge, and 
you even considered yourself a fool for coming into my service, 
and you agreed with Reason. Weren’t you indeed a wicked man?” 

10339 “Mercy, sir, I have confessed it. You know that I did not 
flee, and I made my bequest, I well remember, just as one must 
make it, to those who are bound to you in homage. When Reason 
came to me she did not consider me unfailingly wise, but repri- 
manded very severely and preached to me for a long time; indeed 
she thought that by preaching she could prevent me from serving 
you. However, no matter how much she knew how to put her mind 
to it, I did not believe her; without fail — may I not lie — she made 
me fear, nothing more. But, if it please God, whatever may happen 
to me, as long as my heart stays with you, and that will be as long 
as it is not torn out of my body, Reason will never move me to 
anything which may go against you, or even against any other, 

10361 of smaller worth. In fact I know for certain that I showed bad 
grace in ever thinking as I did and in listening to her, and I beg 
that I may be pardoned, for I wish, in order to amend my life 
as it pleased you to command, to die and live in your law, without 
ever following Reason. There is nothing that may erase this law 
from my heart. Nor may Atropos ever, for anything that I may 
do, bring death to me except in the performance of your work; 
instead may she take me in the very task in which Venus operates 
most willingly. For I do not doubt in any way that no man has 
so much delight as in this particular. And those who should weep 
for me, when they see me thus dead, can say: ‘Fair sweet friend, 
you who are placed there in that situation, now it is true, without 
any fable whatever, that this death is indeed suitable to the life 
that you led when you kept your soul together with this body.’ ” 

10385 “By my head, now you speak wisely. Now I see that in you 
my homage is well-used. You are not among the false renegades, 
the thieves who renounce me when they have done what they 

The (Assault on the Q as tie 185 

sought. Your heart is very loyal; when you navigate so well, 
your ship will come to a good harbor, and I pardon you more 
because of your entreaty than because of any gift, for I wish neither 
silver nor gold. But in place of the confessional, I want you, before 
you reconcile yourself with me, to recall all my commandments, 
for your romance will contain ten of them, counting prohibitions 
and commandments. If you have remembered them well, you have 
not thrown a double ace. Say them.” 

“Willingly. I should flee villainy. I am not to utter slander. 
I should give and return greetings immediately. I should have no 
tendency to say anything vile. I must labor at all times to honor all 
women. I am to flee from pride, to maintain an elegant appearance, 
to become gay and lively, to abandon myself to being generous, and 
to give my whole heart in a single place.” 

“In faith, you know your lesson well* I am in no doubt of it. 
How is it with you?” 

“I am in lively sorrow ; my heart is hardly alive.” 

“Don’t you have three comforts?” 

“Not at all. I lack Sweet Looks, who used to take away the 
poison of my sorrow with his most sweet perfume. All three have 
fled, but of them, the other two came back to me.” 

“Don’t you have Hope?” 

“Yes, sir 5 she does not let me be conquered, for Hope once 
believed is held to for a long time afterward.” 

“Fair Welcoming, what has happened to him?” 

“He is held in prison, the sweet, open fellow who loved me 
so much.” 

“It doesn’t matter now; don’t be dismayed. By my eyes, you 
shall yet have more of your will than you are used to having. 
Since you serve so loyally, I will order my men immediately to 
lay siege to the strong castle. The barons are strong and active. 
Before we leave our siege, Fair Welcoming will be brought out 
from his trap.” 

The God of Love, without making any specification of time or 
place in his message, ordered his entire barony to come to his 
parliament. He begged some; others he commanded. They all 
came without making any excuse, ready to carry out his wish, each 
one according to his ability. I shall name them briefly, without rank, 
in order to gnaw away at my rhymes more quickly. 














1 86 T*he Overthrow of Treason 

Lady Idleness, the keeper of the garden, came with the largest 
banner. Nobility of Heart came, Wealth, Openness, Pity, and Gen- 
erosity 3 Boldness, Honor, Courtesy, Delight, Simplicity, and Com- 
pany 3 Security, Diversion, and Joy 3 Gaiety, Beauty, ^outh, 
Humility, and Patience 3 Skillful Concealment 3 and Constrained 
Abstinence, who led False Seeming with her — without him she 
could hardly come 3 all these came with all their followers. Each 
one of them had a very noble heart, but not Constrained Abstinence 
and False Seeming with his face of pretense. Whatever appear- 
ance they put on outside, they embrace Fraud in their thought. 

Fraud engendered False Seeming, who goes around stealing 
men’s hearts. His mother’s name is Hypocrisy, the dishonored 
thief who suckled and nursed the filthy hypocrite with a rotten 
heart who has betrayed many a region with his religious habit. 

When the God of Love saw him, his whole heart was disturbed 
within him. “What is this?” he asked. “Am I dreaming? Tell me, 
False Seeming, by whose leave have you come into my presence?” 

Constrained Abstinence jumped up and took False Seeming by 
the hand: “Sir,” she said, “I brought him with me, and I beg you 
not to be displeased. He has brought me many honors and com- 
forts 3 he sustains and consoles me, and if it weren’t for him 
I would be dead from hunger. Therefore you should blame me 
the less. Although he does not want to love people, still it is 
important for me that he be loved and called a good man and a 
saint. He is my friend and I his sweetheart, and he comes with me 
for companionship.” 

“So be it,” said the God of Love. Thereupon he made a short 
speech to everyone. 

“I have had you come here,” he said, “to vanquish Jealousy, 
who makes martyrs of our lovers and who aspires to hold against 
me this strong castle that she has erected and that has caused 
my heart a grievous wound. She has had it so strongly fortified 
that before we can capture it it will be necessary to fight a great 
deal. Thus I am full of sorrow and vexation over Fair Welcoming, 
whom she has imprisoned there and who used to advance our 
friends’ causes so well. If he does not come out from there, I am 
undone, for I lack Tibullus, who knew my characteristics so well. 
For his death I shattered my arrows, broke my bow, and dragged 
my quiver in shreds. His death gave me so much and such anguish 

The ^Assault on the Qastle 187 

that at his tomb I trailed my poor wings, all torn because I had 
beaten them so much in my sorrow. My mother wept for his death 
so much that she nearly died. No man who saw us weeping for him 
would not have felt pity. There was neither rein nor bridle on 
our tears. We would have needed Gallus, Catullus, and Ovid, who 
knew well how to treat of love; but each of them is dead and 
decayed. Here is Guillaume de Lorris, whose opponent, Jealousy, 10526 
brings him so much anguish and sorrow that he is in danger of 
dying if I do not think about saving him. He took counsel with 
me willingly, like one who is wholly mine; and he was right, for 
it is for him that we put ourselves to the trouble of assembling all 
our barons to carry off Fair Welcoming or steal him. But he is 
not, let it be said, very wise. Still, it would be a very great pity if I 
lost so loyal a sergeant, when I both can and should help him; he 
has served me so loyally that he has deserved well of me. I should 
sally forth and gird myself to burst the walls and tower and to lay 
siege to the castle with all the power that I have. He should 
serve me still more, for, to merit my grace, he is to begin the 
romance in which all my commandments will be set down, and 
he will finish it up to the point where he will say to Fair Wel- 
coming, who now languishes, unjustly and in sorrow, in the prison: 

‘I am terribly afraid that you may have forgotten me, and I am in 
sorrow and pain. If I lose your good will, there will never be any 
comfort for me, since I have no confidence elsewhere.’ Here 
Gudlaume shall rest. Flay his tomb be full of balm, of incense, 
myrrh, and aloes, so well has he served me, so well did he praise 

“Then will come Jean Chopinel with gay heart and lively body. 10565 
He will be born at Meung-sur-Loire; he will serve me his whole 
life, feasting and fasting, without avarice or envy, and he will 
be such a very wise man that he will have no concern for Reason, 
who hates and blames my unguents, which exhale a perfume 
sweeter than balm. And if it happens, however things go, that 
he fails in any respect— for there is no man who does not sin, 
and each person always has some blemish— he will have so pure 
a heart toward me that he will always, at least in the end, repent 
of his misdeed when he feels himself at fault, and then he will 
not want to betray me. He will be so fond of the romance that 
he will want to finish it right to the end, if time and place can be 

1 88 The Overthrow of Treason 

10587 found. For when Guillaume shall cease, more than forty years 
after his death — may I not lie — Jean will continue it, and because 
of Fair Welcoming’s misfortune, and through the despairing fear 
that he may have lost the good will that Fair Welcoming had 
shown him before, he will say, ‘And perhaps I have lost it. At least 
I do not despair of it.’ And he will set down all the other speeches, 
whatever they may be, wise or foolish, up to the time when he will 
have cut the most beautiful red rose on its green, leafy branch, 
to the time when it is day and he awakes. Then he will want to 
explicate the affair in such a way that nothing can remain hidden. 
If they could have given their counsel in this matter, they would 
have given it to me immediately ; but that cannot now take place 
through Guillaume nor through Jean, who is yet to be born, for 
he is not here present. Thus the situation remains so grievous that 
certainly, after he is born, if I do not come to him, all furnished 
with wings, to read your sentence to him as soon as he emerges 
from infancy, I dare swear and guarantee you that he could never 
finish it. 

10617 “And since it could happen that this Jean who is yet to be born 
might, perhaps, be hindered, and since such a situation would 
be a sin and sorrow, a detriment to lovers, for he will do them 
much good, I pray to Lucina, the goddess of infancy, to grant 
that he be born without pain and difficulty so that he may live 
for a long time. And then afterward, when he comes to the point 
where Jupiter will take him alive and he will have to be made to 
drink, even from before the time when he is weaned, from the 
double casks that he always has, the one clear, the other roiled, 
the one sweet and the other bitterer than soot or the sea, and when 
he is put in his cradle, I shall cover him with my wings because 
he will be so much my friend. I shall sing to him such airs that, 
after he is out of his infancy, he will, indoctrinated with my knowl- 
edge, so flute our words through crossroads and through schools, 
in the language of France, before audiences throughout the king- 
dom, that those who hear these words will never die from the 
sweet pains of love, provided that they believe only him. For he 
will read so fittingly that all those alive should call this book 
The Mirror for Lovers , so much good will they see there for 
them, provided that Reason, that wretched coward, be not believed. 
“Therefore, I wish to be counseled here, for you are all my 


T he ^Assault on the Q as tie 189 

counselors. And I beg your grace with joined palms that this poor 
wretched Guillaume, who has borne himself so well toward me, 
may be helped and comforted. And if I did not beg you for him, 
I should certainly beg you at least that you give Jean the ad- 
vantage of lightening his burden so that he may write more easily, 
for I prophesy that he will be born. I beg you also on behalf of 
the others who will come and who will try with devotion to follow 
my commandments, which they will find written in the book, that 
they may overcome Jealousy’s envious machinations and destroy all 
the castles that she will dare erect. Advise me what we shall do, 
how we shall deploy our host, in which part we can best injure 
them in order to destroy their castle soonest.” 

Thus Love spoke to them, and they received his speech well. 
When he had finished his reasoning, the barons consulted among 
themselves. They supported several opinions, and different ones 
said different things, but after several of them composed their 
disagreements, they announced their consensus to the God of Love. 

“Sir,” they said, “we are agreed through the consent of all 
our people except Wealth alone. She has sworn her oath never to 
lay siege to that castle nor ever, she says, to strike a blow with 
dart, lance, or ax, or with any other arm that may exist, no matter 
what any man may say about it. She holds this young man in such 
despite that she scorns our undertaking and has left our band, 
at least for this operation. She blames him and despises him and 
turns such an unfavorable countenance upon him because, she says, 
he never held her dear; therefore she hates him and will hate him 
from now on because he doesn’t want to lay up treasure. He never 
gave her other tribute; whatever he has given her is here. Indeed, 
she says, without fail, that the day before yesterday he asked her 
if he could enter the path that is called Give-Too-IVluch, and he 
flattered her in addition, but he was poor when he made his plea to 
her, and therefore she denied him the entry. As Wealth tells 
us, he has since then not worked enough to recover a single penny 
that might be lodged with her as her very own. When she told us 
all this, we came to an agreement without her. 

“We find then in our agreement that False Seeming and Ab- 
stinence, along with all those under their banners, will attack 
the rear gate, which Foul Mouth guards with his Normans (may 
the fires of evil burn them!). Along with them, Courtesy and 




190 The Overthrow of Treason 

Generosity will exhibit their prowess against the Old Woman, who 
rules Fair Welcoming with a harsh hand. Next, Delight and Skill- 
ful Concealment will go to kill Shame. They will assemble their 
host against her and lay siege to that gate. Boldness and Security 
are opposed against Fear; they will besiege her with all their 
followers, who never knew anything of flight. Openness and Pity 
will present themselves against Resistance and attack him. Thus 
the host will be well deployed, They will break down the castle 
if each one puts his attention to it, provided that your mother Venus 
be present; she is very wise, for she knows a great deal about this 
kind of operation. It will never be completed, by word or by deed, 
without her. It would have been good to send for her, for she would 
have made the job easier.” 

10749 “My lords,” said Love, “my mother the goddess, who is my 
lady and my mistress, is in no way subject to my desire, and she 
does not do whatever I wish. But she is very much accustomed to 
running to my aid, when it pleases her, to finish my tasks, but I 
do not want to trouble her now. She is my mother, and I have 
feared her since my infancy. I have a very great reverence for 
her, for a child who does not fear his father and mother can never 
become their equal. Nevertheless we shall know well how to send 
for her when we need her. If she were near here she would come 
straightway, since nothing, I believe, would hold her back. My 
mother has very great prowess. She has taken many a fortress that 
cost more than a thousand bezants, when I was never present. Of 
course people imputed the victory to me, but I never entered in 
at any time, nor was I ever pleased by such a capture of a fortress 
without me; for it seems to me that, whatever one says, it is noth- 
ing but merchandising. If a man buys a war horse for a hundred 
pounds, he pays them and will be free of obligation; he owes noth- 

10779 ing more to the merchant, and the merchant owes him nothing. I 
do not call a sale a gift. A sale owes no reward; it involves neither 
grace nor merit. One person leaves the other completely clear of 
debt. This situation is not like a sale, for when the buyer has put 
his horse in the stable, he can sell it again and recover his prop- 
erty or profit. At least he cannot lose everything. If he had to hang 
on to the hide, the hide at least would remain with him, and he 
would be able to realize something from it. Or, if he holds the 
horse so dear that he keeps it for his riding horse, he will always 

The ^Assault on the Q as tie 19 1 

be the lord of the horse. But the market in which Venus is accus- 
tomed to intervene is far worse, for no man will ever know how 
to traffic there without losing all that he owns and all that he 
has bought. The seller has both the thing sold and the price for 
it, so that the buyer loses everything, for he will never hand over 
so much money that he may have lordship over it. And in spite of 
his own gifts, he could never, for any amount of gift or preaching, 
prevent a strange newcomer — whether Breton, English, or Roman 
— from getting as much by giving either the same amount, or more, 
or less. Perhaps, indeed, he can go around telling so many stories 
that he can get everything for nothing. Are such merchants then 
wise? They are but foolish, unhappy wretches when they buy a 
thing knowingly or lose everything that they put out; no matter 
how much they can work, it cannot dwell with them. 

“Nevertheless — I do not seek to deny it — my mother is not in 
the habit of paying anything for it. She is not so foolish or stupid as 
to meddle with such a vice. But you know very well that such a 
person pays her and afterward, when Poverty holds him in dis- 
tress, repents of the price, no matter how much a disciple of Wealth 
he had been. Wealth remains wide awake for me when she wants 
what I want. 

“But by Saint Venus my mother and by Saturn her old father 
who engendered her as one who was already a young girl — but not 
on his espoused wife — by these I want to swear to you once more, 
the better to make the matter secure. By the faith that I owe to 
all my brothers, whose fathers no one knows how to name, so 
diverse, so many are they, all of whom my mother binds to herself 
— by these I swear to you again, and take the swamp of hell, the 
Styx, as witness. If I lie here, I shall not drink sweetened wine 
before a year has passed, for you know the custom of the gods: the 
one who forswears the Styx is not to drink until a year has passed. 
Now I have sworn enough; I am in a bad situation if I forswear 
myself, but you will never see me forsworn. Since Wealth fails 
me here, I think that I will sell that failure dearly to her. She 
shall pay for it if she does not arm herself at least with sword or 
halberd. Since she does not hold me dear today, she will have seen 
today’s dawning in an evil hour from the moment that she knows 
that the fortress and its two towers are to tumble. If I can get a 
rich man in my power, you will see me so trim him that he will 








192 The Overthrow of Treason 

never have so many marks or pounds that he may not be freed 
of them in a short time. I shall have all his money stolen unless 
it gushes out of granaries for him. Our girls will pluck him until 
he lacks even pinfeathers, and they will set him to selling his land 
if he does not know well enough how to protect himself. 

“Poor men have made me their master. Although they may not 
have anything to eat, I do not despise them; no worthy man does. 
Wealth is very greedy and gluttonous, and she treats them harshly, 
harries and spurns them. They love better than the rich, the misers 
and greedy hoarders, and, by the faith that I owe my grandfather, 
they are more eager to serve and more loyal; their good heart 
and willingness satisfy me in large measure. They have placed their 
entire thought in me, and I must necessarily think of them. Their 
outcries move me to such pity that if I were god of riches as I am 
of love, I would set them immediately in stations of great splendor. 
Moreover, I must protect those who labor so hard to serve my 
interests, for if they died from the ills of love, it would appear 
that there was no love whatever in me.” 

“Sir,” they said, “everything that you recount is the truth. The 
judgment that you have made about rich men remains indeed a 
tenable one, good, well-distilled, and appropriate, and thus it shall 
be, we are certain. If rich men do you homage, they will not act 
wisely, for you will never perjure yourself, never endure the pain 
of leaving off drinking sweetened wine. If they can fall into the 
traps of ladies, those ladies will grind such pepper for them that 
they should have all kinds of misery. The ladies will be so courte- 
ous that they will collect your debt handsomely. You need never 
seek other vicars, for they will tell them so much black and white, 
be not dismayed, that you will consider yourself paid. Never inter- 
fere with them. They will tell their victims such news and so incite 
them with requests, through dishonest flatteries, and will give them 
such volleys of kisses and embraces, that, if the men believe them, 
certainly there will not remain to them a single holding that will 
not follow after the movable goods of which they will be relieved 
first. Now command whatever you want, and we will do it, be it 
wrong or right. But False Seeming does not dare interpose in this 
matter, for he says that you hate him, and he doesn’t know if you 
intend to put him to shame. Therefore we all beg you, fair sir, that 
you give over your anger toward him, and we beg that, with his 

' The (Assault on the Qastle 193 

friend Abstinence, he may be part of our barony. That is our agree- 
ment, our compact.” 

“By my faith,” said Love, “I grant this permission. From now 
on I want him to be in my court. Here, come forward.” And False 
Seeming ran forward. 

“False Seeming, by such an agreement you are now mine. You 
will aid our friends and never give them any trouble ; rather you 
will think of how to raise them and to give trouble to our enemies. 
Let yours be the power of surveillance. You will be my king of 
the camp followers, since our chapter wishes it thus. Without 
fail, you are a wicked traitor and unrestrained thief. You have 
perjured yourself a hundred thousand times. But in any case, to 
relieve our people of their uncertainty, I command you in their 
hearing to teach them, at least with general indications, in what 
place they would best find you if they needed to, and how you 
will be recognized, for one needs good wits to recognize you. Tell 
us what places you frequent.” 

“Sir, I have various mansions that I would never try to tell 
you about, if it please you to relieve me of doing so, for if I tell 
you the truth about them, I can bring harm and shame to them. 
If my companions knew it, they would certainly harass me and 
make trouble for me, if I ever knew their cruelty. In all places 
they want to silence the truth which runs contrary to them; they 
would never seek to hear it. If I said a word about them that was 
not pleasing and friendly to them, I could enjoy it in a very un- 
pleasant way. The words that sting them never please them at 
all, even if they were words from the gospel that reprimanded 
them for their treachery, for they are very cruel in an evil way. 
Indeed I know for certain that, if I say anything to you about 
them, they know about it sooner or later, no matter how enclosed 
is your court. I give no attention to worthy men, for when they 
hear me, they never apply what I say to themselves. But the 
man who does take what I say as applying to him falls under the 
suspicion of wishing to lead the life of Fraud and Hypocrisy, who 
engendered and nourished me.” 

“They made a very good engendering of it,” said Love, “and 
a very profitable one, since they engendered the devil. But in any 
case,” he went on, “it is necessary, without fail, that you name 
your mansions for us immediately, in the hearing of all our men, 


1093 1 



194 The Overthrow of Treason 

and that you explain your life to us. It is not good to hide it any 
more; you must reveal everything: how you serve and by what 
means, since you have thrown yourself in among us. And if you 
are beaten for telling the truth — something you are not accustomed 
to do — you will not be the first.” 

10999 “Sir, when it occurs to you as your pleasure, even if I should lie 
dead as a result, I shall do your will, for I have a great desire 
to do so.” Then, without waiting any longer, False Seeming began 
his lecture and said to all in hearing: 

1 1 006 “Barons, hear my theme: he who wants to become acquainted 
with False Seeming must seek him in the world or in the cloister. 
I dwell in no place except these two, but more in one and less in the 
other. Briefly, I am lodged where I think that I am better hidden. 
The safest hiding place is under the most humble garment. The 
religious are very covert, the worldly more open. I do not want 
to blame or defame the religious calling, in whatever habit one 
may find it. I shall not, as I may, blame the humble and loyal re- 
ligious life, although I do not love it. 

1 1023 “I have in mind the false religious, the malicious criminals who 
want to wear the habit but do not want to subdue their hearts. The 
religious are all compassionate; you will never see a spiteful one. 
They do not care to follow pride, and they all want to live 
humbly. I never dwell with such people, and if I do, I pretend. 
I can indeed assume their habit, but I would rather let myself 
be hanged than desert my main business, whatever face I put on it. 

1 1037 “I dwell with the proud, the crafty, the guileful, who covet 
worldly honors and who carry out large dealings, who go around 
tracking down large handouts and cultivating the acquaintance of 
powerful men and becoming their followers. They pretend to be 
poor, and they live on good, delicious morsels of food and drink 
costly wines. They preach poverty to you while they fish for riches 
with seines and trammel nets. By my head, evil will come of them. 
They are neither religious nor worldly. To the world they present 
an argument in which there is a shameful conclusion: this man 
has the robe of religion; therefore he is a religious. This argument 
is specious, not worth a knife of privet; the habit does not make 

1 1059 the monk. Nevertheless no one knows how to reply to the argu- 
ment, no matter how high he tonsures his head, even if he shaves 

The Assault on the Q as tie 195 

with the razor of the Elenchis , that cuts up fraud into thirteen 
branches. No man knows so well how to set up distinctions that he 
dare utter a single word about it. But whatever place I come to, 
no matter how I conduct myself, I pursue nothing except fraud. 
No more than Tibert the cat has his mind on anything but mice and 
rats do I think of anything except fraud. Certainly by my habit 
you would never know with what people I dwell, any more than 
you would from my words, no matter how simple and gentle 
they were. You should look at actions if your eyes have not been 
put out; for if people do something other than what they say, 
they are certainly tricking you, whatever robes they have or what- 
ever estate they occupy, clerical or lay, man or woman, lord, ser- 
geant, servant, or lady.” 

When False Seeming had preached in this way, Love again 
spoke to him and said, interrupting his talk as if it were false or 
foolish, “What is this, you devil, are you shameless? What people 
have you told us about here? Can one find religion in a secular 

“Yes, sir. It does not follow that those who are attached to the 
clothing of the world lead a wicked life or that they therefore lose 
their souls, for that would be a very great sorrow. Holy religion 
can indeed flower in colorful robes. We have seen many holy men 
die, and many saintly women, devout and religious, who always 
wore ordinary clothing, but were none the less sainted. I might 
name many of them for you. But nearly all the holy women who 
are prayed to in the churches, whether chaste virgins or married 
women who bore many beautiful children, wore the robes of the 
world and died in those very clothes; and these women were, are, 
and will be saints. Even the eleven thousand virgins who held their 
candles before God, and whose feast is celebrated in the churches, 
were taken in worldly clothing when they received their martyr- 
dom; but they are still none the worse on that account. A good 
heart makes the thought good; the robe neither takes away nor 
gives. And it is good thought that inspires the man who reveals 
the religious life. In such a life lies religion based upon a right 
intention. If you were to put the fleece of Dame Belin, instead 
of a sable mantle, on Sir Isengrin the wolf, so that he looked like 
a sheep, do you think that if he lived with the ewes he would not 

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196 The Overthrow of Reason 

devour them? He would never drink their blood the less, but he 
would deceive them sooner, for as long as they did not recognize 
him they would follow him if he wanted to flee. 

“If there are even a few such wolves among your new apostles, 
O Church, you are in a bad situation. If your city is attacked by 
the knights of your table, your lordship is very weak. If those 
to whom you have given its defense attack the city, who can pro- 
tect it against them? It will be captured without feeling a shot 
from a mangonel or a catapult, without displaying a banner to 
the wind. And if you don’t want to rescue it from them, then 
you let them run everywhere. Let them! But if you command 
them, then there is nothing for you to do except to surrender or 
become their tributary by making peace with them and keeping it, 
as long as no greater misfortune comes to you than that they be- 
come lords of the entire church. In fact they know now how to 
mock you. By day they run around strengthening the walls, and 
by night they don’t stop undermining them. Think about setting 
out elsewhere the grafts from which you want to ‘gather fruit ; you 
should not wait to do so. But peace! I shall come back from that 
subject. I want to say no more now about it, if I may pass along, 
for I could tire you too much. 

“But indeed I want to promise you to further the causes of all 
your friends, provided that they want my companionship. They 
are dead if they don’t receive me, and they will serve my friend, 
or, by God, they will never succeed! Without fail, I am a traitor, 
and God has judged me a thief. I am perjured, but one hardly 
knows before the end what I am bringing to an end, for several 
who never recognized my fraud have received their deaths through 
me, and many are receiving them and will receive them without 
ever recognizing it. The man who does so, if he is wise, protects 
himself from it, or it will be his great misfortune. But the decep- 
tion is so strong that it is very difficult to recognize it. For Proteus, 
who was accustomed to change into whatever form he wished, 
never knew as much fraud or guile as I practice ; I never entered 
a town where I was recognized, no matter how much I was heard 
or seen. I know very well how to change my garment, to take one 
and then another foreign to it. Now I am a knight, now a monk; 
at one time I am a prelate, at another a canon; at one hour a clerk, 

The ^Assault on the £ as tie igy 

at another a priest; now disciple, now master, now lord of the 
manor, now forester. Briefly I am in all occupations. Again I may 
be prince or page, and I know all languages by heart. At one hour 
I am old and white, and then I have become young again. Now I 
am Robert, now Robin, now Cordelier, now Jacobin. And in order 
to follow my companion, Lady Constrained Abstinence, who com- 
forts me and goes along with me, I take on many another disguise, 
just as it strikes her pleasure, to fulfill her desire. At one time I 
wear a woman’s robe; now I am a girl, now a lady. At another 
time I become a religious: now I am a devotee, now a prioress, 
nun, or abbess; now a novice, now a professed nun. I go through 
every locality seeking all religions. But, without fail, I leave the 
kernel of religion and take the husk. I dwell in religion in order 
to trick people; I seek only its habit, no more. What should I tell 
you? I disguise myself in the way that pleases me. The tune is 
very much changed in me; my deeds are very different from my 

At this point False Seeming wanted to stay silent, but Love 
did not pretend that he was annoyed at what he heard; instead, 
to delight the company, he said to him: 

“Tell us more especially in what way you serve disloyally. 
Don’t be ashamed to speak of it, for, as you tell us of your habits, 
you seem to be a holy hermit.” 

“It is true, but I am a hypocrite.” 

“You go around preaching abstinence.” 

“True, indeed, but I fill my paunch with very good morsels 
and with wines such as are suitable for theologians.” 

“You go around preaching poverty.” 

“True, abundantly richly. But however much I pretend to be 
poor, I pay no attention to any poor person. I would a hundred 
thousand times prefer the acquaintance of the King of France to 
that of a poor man, by our lady, even though he had as good a 
soul. When I see those poor devils all naked, shivering with cold 
on those stinking dunghills, crying and howling with hunger, I 
don’t meddle in their business. If they were carried to the Hotel- 
Dieu, they wouldn’t get any comfort from me, for they wouldn’t 
feed my maw with a single gift, since they have nothing worth 
a cuttlefish. What will a man give who licks his knife? But a 

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198 The Overthrow of Treason 

visit to a rich usurer who is sick is a good and pleasant thing. I go 
to comfort him, for I expect to bring away money from him. And 
if wicked death stifles him, I will carry him right up to his grave. 
And if anyone comes to reprove me for avoiding the poor, do you 
know how I escape from him? I give out behind my cloak that the 
rich man is more stained with sin than the poor, and has greater 
need of counsel, and that that is the reason that I see him and 
advise him. 

11269 “All the same, the soul in very great poverty may undergo as 
great a loss as it does in very great wealth. The one and the other 
are equally wounding to the soul, for they are two extremities, 
wealth and beggary. The name of the mean is sufficiency. There 
lies the abundance of virtues. Solomon has written it all, with- 
holding nothing, in one of his books, entitled Proverbs, right in 
the thirtieth chapter: ‘Keep me, O God, by your power, from 
wealth and from beggary.’ For a rich man, when he applies him- 
self to thinking too much about his wealth, so turns his heart toward 
folly that he forgets his creator. How can I save anyone from sin 
when he is attacked by beggary? He can hardly help being a thief 
and perjurer, or God is a liar, if Solomon uttered for him the very 
words that I spoke of to you just now. I can swear to you without 
delay that it is not written in any law, at least not in ours, that 
Jesus Christ or his apostles, while they went about on earth, were 

1 1 300 ever seen seeking their bread, for they did not wish to beg. The 
masters of divinity in the city of Paris were formerly accustomed 
to preach thus. Moreover, the apostles could ask in full power 
without begging, for they were pastors in the name of God and 
they held the cure of souls. In fact, after their Master’s death, 
they again began to be manual laborers, and they again main- 
tained themselves by their own labor, neither more nor less, and 
lived in patience. If they had anything left over, they gave it to 
other poor people. They did not establish palaces or halls, but lay 
in dirty houses. 

1 1317 “I well remember that a capable man, if he doesn’t have the 
means by which he may live, should seek his living by laboring 
with his own hands, his own body, no matter how religious or 
eager to serve God he may be. He must do thus except in the 
cases, as I remember them, that I can tell you about very well 

The ^Assault on the Q as tie 199 

when I have time to do so. And Scripture has told me that, even 
if he is quite perfect in goodness, he should still sell everything 
and make his living by laboring. The idler who haunts another’s 
table is a thief who serves him with fables. 

“You know too that there is no reasoning by which he might 
excuse himself on account of prayers, since, in one way or another, 
he must leave the service of God from time to time for his other 
needs. It is true that he must eat and sleep and do other things j 
our prayer then takes its rest. Thus he must withdraw from prayer 
to do his work. Scripture, which records truth for us, is consistent 
on this point. 

Moreover, Justinian, who wrote our old books, forbids any 
man who is capable of body to ask for his bread in any way as 
long as he can find a place to earn it. One would do better to 
cripple him or punish him openly than to sustain him in such a 
malicious practice. Those who receive such alms, unless perhaps 
they have a privilege that lessens the penalty for them, are not 
doing what they should. But I don’t think that they would have 
this privilege if the prince had not been deceived; nor do I be- 
lieve that they may rightfully possess it. However, I do not make 
any limitation on the prince or his power, nor do I wish by my 
remarks to include the question of whether or not his power may 
extend to such a case. I should not meddle in this question. But I 
believe that, according to the letter, he who eats the alms that are 
due to the unfortunate who are poor, naked, weak, old, and 
crippled, who do not earn their bread because they haven’t the 
strength — such a man, when he eats their alms to their detriment, 
eats his own damnation, if He who made Adam does not lie. 

“Know too, that where God commands the man of substance to 
sell whatever he has, give it to the poor, and follow Him, He did 
not wish him to live in beggary in order to serve Him. That was 
not His meaning. Instead, He meant that he should work with his 
hands and follow Him with good works. Saint Paul ordered the 
apostles to work in order to recover what they needed to live on, 
and he forbade them to beg, saying, ‘Work with your hands; 
never acquire anything through another.’ He did not want them 
to ask for anything from any of the people to whom they preached, 
nor to sell the gospel. He feared that, if they asked, they might 


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200 T he Overthrow of Treason 

be extorting what they asked for, for there are on earth many 
people who give because, to tell the truth, they are ashamed to 
refuse, or because the person who asks annoys them and they give 
so that he will go away. And do you know what this practice gains 
them? They lose the gift and the merit of giving it. When the 
good men who heard Saint Paul’s sermon begged him for the sake 
of God that he might wish to accept what they had, he never 
wanted to stretch out his hand; but with the labor of his hands 
he took that with which he maintained his life.” 

“Tell me then,” said the God of Love, “how can a man live 
who is strong of body and wants to follow God after he has sold 
everything that is his and distributed his money to the poor? Sup- 
pose that he wants only to pray, without ever working with his 
hands. Can he do so?” 



“If ” replied False Seeming, “he entered, according to the 
commandment of Scripture, into an abbey that had been furnished 
with its own property, as nowadays are those of the white monks, 
those of the black, the canons regular, the Hospitalers, and the 
Templars— for I can indeed take these as examples— and if he took 
his livelihood there, for there is no beggary whatever there. Never- 
theless many monks labor and afterward run to God’s service. 

“And because there was great discord, at a time that I remember, 
about the estate of mendicancy, I will tell you briefly here how a 
man who has nothing with which he might feed himself may be a 
mendicant. You will hear the cases one after the other, so that there 
will be no need to tell them again, in spite of any wicked cackle, 
for Truth doesn’t care for corners, and I could reward her well 

whenever I dared plow such a field. 

“Here are the special cases: If the man is such an animal that 
he has no knowledge of any trade and doesn’t want to remain 
ignorant, he can take to begging until he knows how to perform 
some trade by which he may legitimately earn his living without 


“Or if he cannot work because of a sickness that he has, or 
because of old age or dotage, he may turn to begging. 

“Or if by chance he has been accustomed by his upbringing 
to live very delicately, good men commonly should then have pity 


The cAssault on the Qastle 

on him and, through friendship, allow him to beg for his bread 
rather than let him perish of hunger. 

“Or if he has the knowledge, the wish, and the ability to work, 
and is ready to work well, but does not immediately find someone 
who may want to give him work at anything that he can do or is 
accustomed to do, then he may certainly obtain his needs by begging. 

“Or if he has the wages of his labor, but cannot live on them 
adequately on this earth, then he may indeed set out to ask for his 
bread and from day to day go about everywhere, obtaining what 
he lacks. 

“Or if he wants to undertake some knightly deed to defend 
the faith, either with arms, or by cultivation of his mind, or by 
some other suitable concern, and if he is weighed down by poverty, 
he may certainly, as I have said before, beg until he can work 
to obtain his needs. But he should work with hands of this sort, 

Manus corf oralis 

not with spiritual hands, 

but with the actual bodily hands, without putting any double 
meaning on them. 

“In all these and similar cases, if you find any further cases that 
are reasonable, in addition to those that I have given you here, 
the man who wants to live by beggary may do so, and in no other 
cases, if the man from Saint-Amour does not lie. He was accus- 
tomed to argue and lecture and preach on this subject with the 
theologians at Paris. May bread and wine never help me if in his 
truth he did not have the support of the University and the gen- 
erality of the people who heard his preaching. No worthy man 
can excuse himself before God for denying this idea. Whoever 



1 1471 


202 The Overthrow of Treason 

wants to grumble about it let him grumble, or if he wants to get 
angry, let him get angry, for I would not keep silent about it if I 
had to lose my life, or, like Saint Paul, be put unjustly into a dark 
prison, or be wrongfully banished from the kingdom, as was Mas- 
ter William of Saint-Amour, whom Hypocrisy, out of her great 
envy, caused to be exiled. 

509 “My mother plotted against him so much, on account of the 
truth that he supported, that she chased him into exile. He com- 
mitted a great fault against my mother in writing a new book in 
which he exposed her entire life, and he wanted me to deny mendi- 
cancy and go to work, if I had nothing to live on. In fact he wanted 
to consider me a drunkard. Working can give me no pleasure: I 
have nothing to do with it, for there is too great difficulty in work- 
ing. I prefer to pray in front of people and cover my foxlike 
nature under a cloak of pope-holiness.” 

525 “What’s this?” said Love. “The devil! What are your words? 
What have you said here?” 


“Great and open disloyalty. Don’t you fear God then?” 

528 “Certainly not. The man who wants to fear God can hardly 
attain anything great in this world, for the good, who avoid evil, 
live legitimately on what they have, and keep themselves accord- 
ing to God, scarcely get from one loaf to the next. Such people 
drink too much discomfort ; there is no life that displeases me so 

537 “But consider how usurers, counterfeiters, and loan sharks have 
money in their storehouses. Bailiffs, beadles, provosts, mayors, all 
live practically by rapine. The common people bow to them, while 
they, like wolves, devour the commoners. Everybody runs over the 
poor; there isn’t anyone who does not want to despoil them, and 
all cover themselves with their spoil. They all snuff up their sub- 
stance and pluck them alive without scalding. The strongest robs 
the weakest. But I, wearing my simple robe and duping both 
dupers and duped, rob both the robbed and the robbers. 

553 “By my trickery I pile up and amass great treasure in heaps 
and mounds, treasure that cannot be destroyed by anything. For 
if I build a palace with it and achieve all my pleasures with com- 
pany, the bed, with tables full of sweets — for I want no other 
life — my money and my gold increases. Before my treasure can be 

The ^Assault on the Q as tie 203 

emptied, money comes to me again in abundance. Don’t I make my 
bears tumble? My whole attention is on getting. My acquisitions 
are worth more than my revenues. Even if I were to be beaten or 
killed, I still want to penetrate everywhere. I would never try 
to stop confessing emperors, kings, dukes, barons, or counts. But 
with poor men it is shameful ; I don’t like such confession. If not 
for some other purpose, I have no interest in poor people ; their 
estate is neither fair nor noble. 

“These empresses, duchesses, queens, and countesses ; their high- 
ranking palace ladies, these abbesses, beguines, and wives of bailiffs 
and knights; these coy, proud bourgeois wives, these nuns and 
young girls ; provided that they are rich or beautiful, whether 
they are bare or well turned out, they do not go away without 
good advice. 

“For the salvation of souls, I inquire of lords and ladies and 
their entire households about their characteristics and their way of 
life; and I put into their heads the belief that their parish priests 
are animals in comparison with me and my companions. I have 
many wicked dogs among them, to whom I am accustomed to 
reveal people s secrets, without hiding anything; and in the same 
way they reveal everything to me, so that they hide nothing in 
the world from me. 

“In order that you may recognize the criminals who do not 
stop deceiving people, I will now tell you here the words that we 
read of Saint Matthew, that is to say, the evangelist, in the twenty- 
third chapter: ‘Upon the chair of Moses’ (the gloss explains that 
this is the Old Testament), ‘the scribes and pharisees have sat.’ 
These are the accursed false people that the letter calls hypocrites. 
‘Do what they say, but not what they do. They are not slow to 
speak well, but they have no desire to do so. To gullible people 
they attach heavy loads that cannot be carried; they place them 
on their shoulders, but they dare not move them with their 
finger.’ ” 

“Why not?” asked Love. 

“In faith,” replied False Seeming, “they don’t want to, for 
porters’ shoulders are often accustomed to suffer from their bur- 
dens, and these hypocrites flee from wanting to do such a thing. 
If they do jobs that may be good, it is because people see them. 
They enlarge their phylacteries and increase their fringes; since 

1 1 577 


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1 1619 

1 1637 

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204 j the Overthrow of Treason 

they are haughty, proud, and overbearing, they like the highest 
and most honorable seats at tables and the first in the synagogues. 
They like people to greet them when they pass along the street, 
and they want to be called ‘master , 5 which they shouldn’t be called, 
for the gospel goes against this practice and shows its unlawfulness. 

“We have another custom toward those that we know are against 
us. We want to hate them very strongly and attack them all by 
agreement among ourselves. He whom one hates, the others hate, 
and all are bent on ruining him. If we see that he may, through 
certain people, win honor in the land, income, or possessions, we 
study to find out by what ladder he may mount up, and the better 
to capture and subdue him, we treacherously defame him to those 
people, for we do not love him. We cut the rungs from his ladder, 
and we strip him of his friends in such a way that he will never 
know by a word that he has lost them. If we troubled him openly, 
we would perhaps be blamed for it and thus miss out in our calcu- 
lation j if he knew our worst intention, he would protect himself 
against it so that we would be reprimanded for it. 

“If one of us has done something very good, we consider that 
we have all done it. Indeed, by God, if he was pretending it, or 
if he no more than condescends to brag that he has advanced cer- 
tain men, we make ourselves partners in the deed and, as you 
should well know, we say that these people have been helped on by 
us. In order to win people’s praise we tell lies to rich men and get 
them to give us letters bearing witness to our goodness, so that 
throughout the world people will think that every virtue abounds 
in us. We always pretend to be poor, but no matter how we com- 
plain, we are the ones, let me tell you, who have everything with- 
out having anything. 

“I also undertake brokerage commissions, I draw up agree- 
ments, I arrange marriages, I take on executor’s duties, and I go 
around doing procurations. I am a messenger and I make investi- 
gations, dishonest ones, moreover. To occupy myself with someone 
else’s business is to me a very pleasant occupation. And if you have 
any business to do with those whom I frequent, tell me, and the 
thing is done as soon as you have told me. Provided that you have 
served me well, you have deserved my service. But anyone who 
wanted to punish me would rob himself of my favor. I neither 
love nor value the man by whom I am reproved for anything. 

1 The Assault on the Qastle 205 

I want to reprove all the others, but I don’t want to hear their 
reproof, for I, who correct others, have no need of another’s cor- 

“I have no care either for hermitages. I have left the deserts 
and woods, and I leave desert manors and lodgings to Saint John 
the Baptist, for there I was lodged much too far away. I make 
my halls and palaces in towns, castles, and cities, where one can 
run with a free rein. I say that I am out of the world, but I plunge 
into it and immerse myself in it ; I take my ease and bathe and 
swim better than any fish with his fin. 

“I am one of Antichrist’s boys, one of the thieves of whom it is 
written that they have the garment of saintliness and live in pre- 
tense 3 we seem pitiful sheep without, but within we are ravening 
wolves. And we inhabit sea and land. We have taken up war 
against the whole world, and we want to prescribe in every detail 
the life that one should lead. If there is a castle or city where 
heretics may be mentioned, even if they were from Milan (for men 
give the Milanese that reputation) ; or if anyone exacts unreasona- 
ble terms in selling on time or lending at usury, no matter how 
eager he is for gain; or if he is very lecherous, or a robber or 
simoniac, whether a provost, an official, a jolly-living prelate, a 
priest who keeps a mistress, an old whore with a house, a pimp, 
a brothel-keeper, or an old offender at whatever vice to which one 
should do justice; then — by all the saints to whom one may pray! — 
if he doesn’t protect himself with lampreys, pike, salmon, or eels, 
as long as one can find them in town; or with tarts or pies or 
cheeses in wicker baskets — a very fine gem with a caillou pear — or 
with fat young geese or capons, with which we tickle our palates; 
or if he doesn’t make haste to bring kids and rabbits, roasted on 
spits, or at least a loin of pork, he will have a leading rope by 
which he will be led off to be burned, so that one would hear him 
yell indeed for a good league all around; or he will be taken and 
put in a tower to be walled in forever if he hasn’t done well by us; 
or he will be punished for his crimes, more, perhaps, than he has 

“But if he had ingenuity enough and knew how to build a large 
tower, it doesn’t matter of what stone, even if it were unmeasured 
or unsquared, of earth or wood, or of anything else whatever, 
provided that he had amassed enough temporal goods inside it 

1 1701 






206 The Overthrow of Treason 

and mounted on top of it a catapult that would launch, in front, 
behind, and to the two sides as well, a heavy fire against us of such 
pebbles as you have heard me name, so that he might get a good 
name for himself, and provided that he charged large mangonels 
with wine in barrels or casks, or with large bags of a hundred 
pounds — then he could see himself quickly freed. And if he does 
not find such pittances, let him study up on equivalent arguments 
and abandon commonplaces and fallacies if he hopes to gain our 
favor through them. Otherwise we will bear such witness against 
him that we will have him burned alive, or we will give him a 
penance more costly than the pittance. 

“You will never recognize them by their garments, these false 
traitors full of trickery; you must look at their deeds if you really 
want to protect yourself from them. 

“And if it had not been for the good protection of the Univer- 
sity, which keeps the key of Christianity, everything would have 
been overturned when, in the year of the Incarnation 1255, there 
was released, through evil intent — no man living can give me the 
lie; it is a true case, to take a common example — a book from 
the devil, The Eternal Gospel , that, as it appears in the title, brings 
the Holy Spirit, for it is thus named. It is indeed worthy to be 
burned. There is not a man or woman in Paris, in the parvis in front 
of Notre Dame, who could not have had it to transcribe if he had 
pleased. In this book he would have found many such grossly 
erroneous comparisons as these: as much as by its great worth, in 
brightness or in heat, the sun surpasses the moon, which is much 
more dark and obscure, and as much as the nut surpasses its shell — 
don’t think that I am making fun of you; on my soul I am speak- 
ing to you without guile — so much this gospel surpasses those 
which the four evangelists of Jesus Christ wrote under their names. 
One would have found there a great mass of such comparisons, 
which I pass over. 

“The University, which at that time was asleep, raised up its 
face. As a result of the noise the book made, it awoke and hardly 
ever slept afterward, but instead armed itself to go out, all ready 
to do battle and hand the book over to the judges when it saw 
this horrible monster. But those who had issued the book rose up 
and withdrew it and made haste to conceal it, for they did not 
know how to reply, by explication or glossing, to what the opposers 

The z/Issault on the Q as tie 207 

wanted to say against the accursed things that are written in that 
book. Now I do not know what will come of it nor what result 
the book will bring about, but they still have to wait until they 
can defend it better. 

“Thus we are awaiting Antichrist, and we are headed toward 
him all together. Those who don’t want to join him will have to 
lose their lives. We will incite people against them by the frauds 
that we hide, and we will make them perish by the sword or by 
some other death if they don’t want to follow us. For it is written 
in the book, where it expresses this idea: as long as Peter has 
lordship, John cannot show his power. Now that I have told you 
the rind of the sense, which hides the intent, I want to explain its 
marrow. By Peter it wants to signify the Pope and to include the 
secular clergy, who will keep, guard, and defend the law of Jesus 
Christ against all those who would impede it. By John, it means 
the preachers, who will say that there is no tenable law except the 
Eternal Gospel, sent by the Holy Spirit to put people on the good 
way. By the force of John is meant the favor by which he goes 
around vaunting himself because he wants to convert sinners to 
make them turn back to God. There are many other deviltries 
ordered and set down in this book that I have named for you, 
deviltries that are against the law of Rome and belong to Antichrist, 
as I find written in the book. Those of John’s party will order all 
those of Peter’s party to be killed, but they will never have the 
power to overcome the law of Peter, either to kill or to punish, I 
guarantee you this, since there will not be enough of them remain- 
ing alive to maintain it forever so that in the end everybody will 
come to it, and the law that is signified by John will be overthrown. 
But I don’t want to say any more of it to you now, for it would be 
a very long subject here. But if this book had been passed, my 
estate would have been much greater. I already have very great 
friends who have always put me into high positions. 

“My sire and father Fraud is emperor of the whole world, and 
my mother is its empress. In spite of the fact that men may have 
the Holy Spirit, our powerful line reigns. We reign now in every 
kingdom, and it is quite just that we do so, for we seduce the 
whole world, and we know how to deceive people so that no one 
can recognize the deception. Or if anyone can recognize it he does 
not dare reveal the truth. But he who fears my brothers more 




1 1918 

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208 The Overthrow of Treason 

than God places himself under God’s wrath. He who fears such 
simulation is no good champion of the faith, any more than is he 
who wants to avoid trouble when he might come bringing accusa- 
tions against us. Such a man does not want to listen to the truth 
nor have God before his eyes; and God will punish him for it, 
without fail. 

“But it doesn’t matter to me how things go, once we have honor 
among men. We are considered such good men that we have the 
prize of being able to punish without being reproved by any man. 
What men should be honored except us, who do not cease praying 
openly before people, although it may be otherwise behind their 
backs? Is it a greater folly than to encourage chivalry and to love 
noble and splendid people who have pretty, elegant clothing? 
If they are such people as they appear to be, as fine as their fine 
apparel, so that what they say agrees with what they do, isn’t 
such a situation a great sorrow and outrage? If they don’t want 
to be hypocrites, may such people be cursed! 

“Certainly we shall never love such, but Beguins with large 
coifs and faces that are pale and sweet, who have these wide gray 
robes all spotted with filth, knitted leggings, and broad boots that 
look like a quail-hunter’s pouch. Princes should give over to them 
the job of governing them and their lands, in peace or war; a 
prince should cleave to those who want to come to great honor. 
And if they are other than they seem, and by that means steal the 
world’s favor, it is there that I want to fix my position, in order 
to deceive and trick. 

“Now I do not on that account want to say that one should 
despise a humble habit, as long as pride does not dwell underneath 
it. No man should hate a poor man on account of the habit he is 
dressed in, but God doesn’t value him at two straws if he says that 
he has left the world and then abounds in worldly glory and wants 
to use its delights. Who can excuse such Beguines? When such 
a pope-holy gives himself up and then goes seeking worldly de- 
lights, and says that he has abandoned them all when afterwards 
he wants to grow fat on them, he is the cur that greedily returns 
to his own vomit. 

“But to you I dare not lie. However, if I could feel that you 
would not recognize it, you would have a lie in hand. Certainly 
I would have tricked you, and I would never have held back on 

T'he (Assault on the Q as tie 209 

account of any sin. And I would indeed desert you if you were to 
treat me poorly.” 

The god smiled at this wonder, and everyone laughed with 
amazement and said, “Here is a fine sergeant, of whom people 
should indeed be proud!” 

“False Seeming,” said Love, “tell me: since I have brought 
you so near to me that your power in my court is so great that 
you will be king of camp followers here, will you keep your agree- 
ment with me?” 

“Yes, I swear it and promise you; neither your father nor your 
forefathers ever had sergeants more loyal.” 

“How! It is against your nature.” 

“Take your chances on it, for if you demand pledges, you will 
never be more sure, in fact, not even if I gave hostages, letters, 
witnesses, or security. I call on you as witness of the fact that one 
can’t take the wolf out of his hide until he is skinned, no matter 
how much he is beaten or curried. Do you think that I do not de- 
ceive and play tricks because I wear a simple robe, under which I 
have worked many a great evil? By God! I shall never turn my 
heart from this kind of life. And if I have a simple, demure face, 
do you think that I may cease doing evil? My sweetheart Con- 
strained Abstinence has need of my providence. She would long 
ago have been dead and in a bad plight if she hadn’t had me in 
her power. Grant that we two, she and I, may carry out the task.” 

“So be it,” said Love, “I believe you without guarantee.” 

And the thief with the face of treachery, white without and black 
within, knelt down on the spot and thanked him. 

Then there was nothing but to take up their positions. “Now to 
the assault without delay,” said Love aloud, and they all armed 
themselves together with such arms as would endure. When they 
were thus armed and ready, they all sallied out, full of ardor, and 
came to the strong castle, which they would never try to leave 
until they were all martyred or captured there. They divided 
their forces into four parts and went off in four groups, as soon as 
their people were divided up, to attack the four gates. The guards 
on the gates were not dead, sick, or lazy, but strong and vigorous. 

Now I will tell you about the conduct of False Seeming and 
Abstinence, who went against Foul Mouth. The two of them held 
a council between them on how they should act, whether they 



1 1986 

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T'he Overthrow of Treason 

should make themselves known or go disguised. By agreement, 
they worked out a plan of going stealthily as though they were 
on a pilgrimage, like good, pious, and holy people. Constrained 
Abstinence straightway put on a robe of cameline and fixed herself 
up as a Beguine; she covered her head with a large kerchief and a 
white cloth, and she did not forget her psalter. She had paternosters 
hanging on a white thread-lace. They had not been sold to her ; a 
friar had given them to her. She told him that he was her father 
and visited him very often, more than any other in the convent; 
he also visited her often, and gave her many a fine sermon. He 
never omitted, on account of False Seeming, to confess her often, 
and they made their confession with such great devotion that it 
seemed to me that they had two heads together under a single 

2065 I would describe her as a woman of fine stature, but a little pale 
of face. She resembled, the dirty bitch, the horse in the Apocalypse 
that signified the wicked people, pale and stained with hypocrisy; 
for that horse bore no color upon himself except a pale, dead one. 
Abstinence had such a sickly color. According to her face, she was 
repentant about her estate. She had a stick of larceny, darkened 
with the brown smoke of sadness, that she had received as a gift 
from Fraud, and a bag full of cares. When she was ready, she 
went off. 

2082 False Seeming, who was also equipping himself well, had 
dressed, as though to try it out, in the clothing of brother Seier. 
He had a very simple, compassionate face without any appearance 
of pride, a sweet, peaceful look. At his neck he carried a Bible. 
Afterward, he went off without a squire, and, to support his limbs, 
as though he had no power, he used a crutch of treason. Up his 
sleeve he slipped a very sharp steel razor, that he had made in a 
forge and that was called Cut-Throat. 

2097 Each one went along and approached until they came to Foul 
Mouth, who sat at his gate, where he saw all the passersby. He 
picked out the pilgrims who were coming along, behaving them- 
selves very humbly. They bowed toward him with great humility. 
Abstinence saluted him first and went near him, and False Seeming 
saluted him afterward. He saluted them in return, but never 
moved, since he neither suspected nor feared them. When he had 

21 I 

The zAssault on the Q as tie 

seen them he recognized them well enough by their faces, it 
seemed to him, since he knew Abstinence well, but he knew noth- 
ing whatever about constraint in her. He did not know that her 
life of thievery and pretense was a constrained one, but thought 
instead that she came out of good faith. But she came from another 
level, and if she began with good faith, it was lacking from that 
point on. 

Foul Mouth had certainly seen Seeming also, but he did not 12119 
recognize him as false. He was false, but he had never been con- 
victed of falsity, for he worked so hard on his appearance that 
he covered up his falsity. But if you had known him before you 
had seen him in these clothes, you would have indeed sworn by the 
king of heaven that he who before had been used to being hand- 
some Robin in the dance was now become a Jacobin. But without 
fail, and this is the sum of it, the Jacobins are all worthy men — they 
would maintain their order badly if they were such minstrels — 
and so are the Cordeliers and the barred friars, no matter how 
large and fat they may be, and the friars of the sack and all others. 

There is not one who does not appear a worthy man. But you will 
never see a good consequence result from appearance in any argu- 
ment that one may make, if a deficiency annuls any existence. You 
will always find a sophism that poisons the consequence, as long 
as you have the subtlety to understand the double meaning. 

When the pilgrims had come to Foul Mouth, where they were 12 147 
supposed to come, they put down all their equipment very close to 
them and sat down next to Foul Mouth, who said to them: 

“Now then, come on; teach me your news, and tell me what 
business leads you to this house.” 

“Sir,” said Constrained Abstinence, “we have come here as pil- 
grims to perform our penance with pure hearts, clean and whole. 

We nearly always go by foot, and our heels are very dusty. We 
are sent, both of us, through this misguided world to give an 
example and to preach in order to fish for sinners, since we want 
no other catch ; and we come to ask you for shelter in God’s name, 
as we are accustomed to do. To better your life, we want to go over 
a good sermon in a few brief words, as long as you should not be 

Foul Mouth spoke straightway: “Take such shelter as you see — 12172 

212 The Overthrow of Treason 

it shall never be forbidden you — and say whatever you please. I 
shall listen to whatever it is.” 

1 21 77 “Many thanks, sir.” 

Then Lady Abstinence began first: “Sir, the chief virtue, the 
greatest and most sovereign that any mortal man may have, 
through knowledge or possession, is to bridle his tongue. Every- 
one should take trouble to do so, since it is always better to keep 
silent than to utter a wicked thing, while he who listens to it will- 
ingly is neither worthy nor God-fearing. Sir, you are stained with 
this sin above all others. For a long time you have told a falsehood, 
for which you have been badly to blame, about a young man who 
came here. You said that he was only seeking to deceive Fair Wel- 
coming. You did not tell the truth, but lied about it, perhaps. He 
neither goes nor comes here now, and perhaps you will never see 
him. On that account Fair Welcoming remains locked up, when he 
used to play with you here the loveliest games that he could, most 
12205 of the days of the week, without any base thought. Now he does 
not dare solace himself here. You have had the young man chased 
away who used to come here to divert himself. Who incited you 
to harm him so much, outside of your evil mind, that has thought 
up many a lie? It was your foolish talk that brought this situation 
on. It howls and cries and chatters and quarrels; it foists blame on 
people and dishonors and brings trouble to them on account of a 
thing that has no proof whatever outside of appearance or a lying 
invention. I dare you to say openly that whatever appears is not 
true. It remains a sin to contrive something which brings reproof. 
Even you know that very well, and your wrong is greater for that 
reason. Nevertheless the young man doesn’t make anything of it; 
he wouldn’t give the bark of an oak for it, however it may be. 
You may know that he was not thinking of any evil, for he would 
12229 have gone and come; no excuse would have held him back. Now 
he does not come here and has no concern to do so, except by some 
chance, just in passing by, and he does so less than others. And you, 
with your lance ready to attack, watch over this gate, without 
stopping. The simpleton wastes his time the whole day long. Night 
and day you watch. In truth, you do no real work there. Jealousy, 
who expects something of you, will never count you worth much. 
And it remains a shame that Fair Welcoming is kept as a pledge 

The ^Assault on the Qastle 213 

when no loan brings in interest, and that he dwells in prison with- 
out any forfeit being made. There the captive weeps and languishes. 
If you had committed no more wrong in the whole world than 
this one misdeed, one should, without troubling you further, shove 
you out of this job and put you in prison or in iron chains. If you 
don’t repent, you will go to the pit of hell.” 

“You lie for certain,” said Foul Mouth. “Now may you be 
unwelcome. Have I entertained you for this, that you should 
speak shame and vilification about me? To your great misfortune 
you took me for a shepherd. Go now and lodge somewhere else, 
you who call me a liar. You are a pair of tricksters who have come 
here to accuse me and mistreat me because I speak the truth. Is 
that what you come trying to do? I’ll hand myself over to all 
the devils, or you, good God, may destroy me, if, not more than 
ten days before the castle was built, I was not told — and I tell 
you in turn — that that fellow kissed the rose. I don’t know if 
he took any further comfort of it. Why should I be led to believe 
such a thing unless it were true? By God, I say it and say it again, 
and I believe that I was not lied to; and I will trumpet it to all 
the men and women in the neighborhood, how he came here and 

Then False Seeming spoke: “Sir, all that they say around the 
town is not gospel. Now you don’t have deaf ears, and I will 
prove to you that these reports are false. You certainly know that 
no one loves wholeheartedly a man who speaks ill of him. For 
all the other knows, he may know very little about him. And it 
remains true — I have always read it — that all lovers willingly visit 
the places where their sweethearts live. This young man honors 
you; he loves you and calls you his very dear friend. Everywhere 
that he meets you he shows you a gay and friendly face and never 
stops greeting you. At the same time, he does not press you too 
much or tire you; others come here much more. Know too that 
if his heart were tormented by the rose, he would have approached 
it, and you would have seen him here often. In fact you could 
have caught him red-handed, since he could not have kept away 
from it if he had been spitted alive, and he would not now be in the 
situation that he is. You can understand then that he isn’t thinking 
at all in that direction. Truly, neither does Fair Welcoming, even 



«**** t 


214 The Overthrow of Treason 

though he is being sorely rewarded for it. By God! If the two of 
them really wished it, they would cut the rose in spite of you. 
Now that you have slandered the young man who loves you, you 
know very well, and never doubt it, that if his intention had been 
such, he would never have loved you at any time, never have called you 
friend. If it were so, he would plan and watch for a chance to attack 
the castle and break in, for he would know; either someone would 
have told him or he could have known by himself that he could not 
have access to it as he had had before. He would have noticed 
it immediately. But now he acts in quite another way. Thus in 
subduing such people you have indeed completely deserved the 
death of hell.” 

False Seeming proved the case to him thus, and Foul Mouth 
did not know how to reply to his argument, since he saw the ap- 
pearance of logic in every case. He was about to fall into repentance 
and said to them, “By God! It may indeed be so, Seeming; I con- 
sider you a good master, and Abstinence a very wise woman. You 
seem indeed to have spirit. What do you recommend me to do?” 

“You will be confessed on this spot. Without anything more, 
you will tell this sin and repent of it. For I am from an order 
and thus am a priest, the highest master of confessing that may 
be, as long as the world lasts. The whole world is my charge; 
no priest-cure, sworn entirely to his church, ever had any such 
right. By the high lady, I have a hundred times more pity on 
your soul than your parish priest, no matter how much he were 
your special one. Moreover I have one very great advantage. 
There are no prelates so wise or learned as I. I have a license 
in divinity, and in fact, by God, I have lectured for a long time. 
The best people that one may know have chosen me as confessor on 
account of my sense and my knowledge. If you want to confess 
here and abandon this sin without further ado, without making 
any further mention of it, you will have my absolution.” 

Straightway Foul Mouth got down, knelt, and confessed, for 
he was already truly repentant; False Seeming seized him by the 
throat, squeezed with his two hands, strangled him, and then took 
away his chatter by removing his tongue with his razor. Thus they 
finished with their host; they did nothing else to kill him, but 
tumbled him into a moat. They broke down the undefended gate, 
passed through it, and found all the Norman soldiers sleeping 

The cAssault on the Qastle 215 

within, so much had they vied with each other in drinking wine 
that I had not poured. They themselves had poured out so much 
that they all lay sleeping on their backs. False Seeming and Con- 
strained Abstinence strangled them, drunk and sleeping as they 
were. They will never again be capable of chattering. 



I 2396 

1 2401 




And then Courtesy and Generosity passed through the gate 
without idling, and all four assembled there furtively and in secret. 
The Old Woman, who had been guarding Fair Welcoming for a 
long time, was not watching, and all four saw her together. She 
had descended from the tower and was having a good time in the 
bailey. She had covered her head with a coif, instead of a cloth, over 
her wimple. They ran up to her in haste and all four attacked her 
immediately. She didn’t want to get beaten, and when she saw 
all four of them together, she said: 

“By my faith, you seem fine people, brave and courteous. Tell 
me now, without any noise, should I count myself the prize that 
you seek in this enterprise?” 

“The prize! Sweet tender mother! We don’t come to capture 
you, but only to see you and, if it may please and suit you, to 
offer our bodies, wholly and completely, along with whatever we 
possess that is worthy, never to fail you, all at your sweet com- 
mand, and, O sweet mother who have never been bitter, if it 
please you, we have come to beg you, with no evil intention, that 
it might please you that Fair Welcoming should no longer languish 
inside there, and to beg further that he might come outside to 
play with us a little bit, without getting his feet dirty. Or — 
please — at least let him speak a word with this young man and let 
the one comfort the other. It will be a very great comfort to them 
and will cost you scarcely anything. Then this young man will be 
your liege man, even your servant, and you will be able to do 
whatever you wish with him, sell him, hang him, mutilate him. 
It is good to win a friend. And look at these jewels j he gives 
you this clasp and these buttons, and truly he will soon give you 
a garment. He has a very free heart, courteous and generous, and 
he will not be a burden to you. You are greatly loved by him, 
and you will never be blamed, for he is very sensible and discreet. 
We beg that you will hide him, so that he may proceed with no 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 217 

suspicion of bad conduct. In this way you will restore him to life. 
And now take this chaplet of fresh little flowers, if you please, 
from him to Fair Welcoming ; comfort him for this young man 
and make him a present of a warm salute. That will be worth 
a hundred marks to him.” 

“God help me,” said the Old Woman, “if it could be that 
Jealousy did not know and that I never heard any blame for it, 
I would indeed do so, but Foul Mouth the scandalmonger is too 
malicious a slanderer. Jealousy has made him her sentinel, and 
he keeps watch on all of us. Without hindrance he shouts and 
cries out whatever he knows, indeed, whatever he thinks ; he even 
makes up his matter when he doesn’t know whom to slander. If he 
had to be hanged for it, he would not be hindered. So you see, 
if the thief were to tell Jealousy, I would be brought to shame.” 
“About that,” they said, “you don’t have to fear. He can never 
overhear or see anything in any way. He lies dead outside, in the 
moat rather than on a bier, with his throat open. Understand 
that, unless there is an enchantment, he will never tattle to the 
gods, for he will never revive. If the devils don’t perform miracles 
with poisons and medicines, he can never make any accusation.” 
“Then I shall never seek to refuse your request,” said the 
Old Woman, “but tell him to hurry. I shall find a passage for 
him, but he must not talk too freely nor delay very long. When 
I let him know, he must come quickly and keep his person and his 
belongings hidden so that no one may see him, and he must not do 
anything he ought not to, even if he might speak his whole will.” 
“Lady, without doubt he will be as you say,” they said, and 
everyone thanked her. Thus did they fabricate their plan. 

But, however things might be, False Seeming, who thought 
otherwise, said to himself in a low voice: 

“He for whom we undertook this job would not cease loving, 
and he therefore trusted me to some extent ; if so, then if you, 
Old Woman, do not come to an agreement with him, you will 
hardly succeed in going so far but what he might enter there 
secretly, if he had either time or place. One doesn’t always see the 
wolf before he has stolen the ewes from the stable, no matter how 
one guards the flock in the pasture. You might have gone for an 
hour to the convent, where you stayed so long yesterday. Jealousy, 
who now plays him this trick, might perhaps have gone elsewhere 


1 2461 


1 2490 




1 25 5 5 


2i 8 The Overthrow of Treason 

out of town, or wherever she might need to go, and he would then 
come, in secret or by night, from the garden, alone, without candle 
or torches, if not with Friend, who watches over him, if the 
Lover had invited him. Friend would guide the Lover quickly and 
easily unless the moon was shining, for the moon’s clear light 
has many times been an annoyance to lovers. Or, since the Lover 
knows the situation of the house well, he would enter by the win- 
dows and get down again with a rope. Thus he would come and 
go. Perhaps Fair Welcoming would descend into the garden where 
the Lover was waiting for him, or he might flee out of the en- 
closure where you have held him prisoner for many days and come 
to speak to the young man if the Lover could not go to him. Or 
when he knew that you were asleep and he could see the right 
time and place, he might leave the doors ajar for the young man. 
In this way the pure lover, if he succeeds in any way in getting 
the better of the other guards, might approach the rosebud on 
which his thought is fixed and then pluck it unforbidden.” 

For my part — I was not far away — I thought that I would do 
exactly as he said. If the Old Woman wanted to guide me, I should 
have no trouble or difficulty 5 if she didn’t, I would enter, just 
as False Seeming thought, by the route where I saw the best oppor- 
tunity. I agreed with his idea in every way. 

The Old Woman stayed there no longer, but returned at a trot 
to Fair Welcoming, who kept to the tower against his will, for he 
suffered indeed from such captivity. She went until she came to 
the entry of the tower, where she passed through quickly. Blithely 
she mounted the steps as fast as she could with her trembling 
limbs. She looked for Fair Welcoming from room to room and 
found him, dejected by his prison, leaning over the battlements. 
Since he was pensive, sad, and mournful, she set herself to com- 
fort him. 

“Fair son,” she said, “I am very distressed when I find you 
so greatly dismayed. Tell me your thoughts, for if I know how 
to counsel you, you will never see me hesitate to do so at any 

Since Fair Welcoming did not know whether she spoke the truth 
or lied, he did not dare to complain nor to say “What?” nor 
“How?” to her. He denied her his thoughts, for he felt no security 
in her at all. He confided nothing to her 5 even his trembling and 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 219 

fearful heart mistrusted her, but he dared show no sign of his 
mistrust, so great had his fear always been of the senile old whore. 
Since he feared that she would betray him, he wanted to avoid 
the least hint of wrongdoing. Therefore he did not reveal his 
uneasiness to her, but calmed himself within and put on an outward 
show of gaiety: 

“Certainly, my dear lady,” he said, “however much you suspect, 
I am not in the least downcast, except because you stay away from 
me, no more. Without you, it is difficult to live in this place, so 
great a love do I have for you. Where have you dwelt for so 

“Where? By my head! You shall know immediately and you 
shall take great joy in your knowledge if you are at all valiant 
or wise, for instead of greetings from a stranger, I bring more 
than a thousand salutes from the most courteous young man in the 
world, who abounds in every grace. I saw him just now in the 
street as he was going along, and he sent you this chaplet by me. 
He said that he would gladly see you and that, if it were not 
through your desire as well, he would never afterward seek to 
live nor have a single day of health. God and Saint Foy keep 
him, he said, unless he could speak to you freely just one single 
time, provided that you were pleased. To say no more, he loves 
his life on your account. He would gladly be naked at Pavia on 
condition that he knew how to do one thing that could give you 
pleasure. It wouldn’t matter what happened to him as long as he 
could keep you near him.” 

Before he would accept the present, Fair Welcoming asked in 
any case who had sent it to him 3 he felt fearful that it could 
have come from a source such that he would not wish to keep it 
at all. The Old Woman, without any other tales, told him the 
whole truth. 

“It’s the young man you know and have heard so much talk 
of, the one on whose account the late Foul Mouth made you suffer 
so greatly when he placed all the blame on you. May his soul 
never go to paradise! For he has brought woe to many a good 
man. Now that he is dead and the devils have carried him off, 
we have escaped, and I wouldn’t give you two apples for all his 
chatter. We are free forever. Even if he could revive now, he 
could not harm us, however skillful he might be at putting blame 






The Overthrow of Treason 

on you, for I know more about that game than he ever did. Believe 
me now and take this chaplet and wear it, and comfort the young 
man at least as much in return, since he loves you, never doubt, 
with good love, not base. And if he intends any other thing, he 
2637 did not disclose much of it to me. But we can indeed have con- 
fidence in him: for your part, you know very well how to deny 
him if he asks anything that he ought not to. If he commits folly, 
let him drink it; and if he is no fool, then he is wise. Since he has 
never committed any outrageous acts, I prize him more highly 
and love him myself. He will never be so base as to demand any- 
thing of you, who would do nothing on demand. He is more 
loyal than any living person: those who keep company with him 
have always so testified, and so do I. In his manners he is very well 
regulated; there is no man born of a mother who ever heard any 
evil of him, except as much as Foul Mouth told of him. But all 
that has been forgotten. I myself have forgotten it little by little; 
I don’t even remember the statements, except that they were false 
and wild and that the thief invented them and proved none of 
2661 them. Indeed, I know well that the young man, since he is valiant 
and brave without fail, would have killed him if he had known 
anything of it. His heart is so filled with nobility that there is no 
one in this country worth as much as he is. In largesse, he would 
surpass King Arthur, indeed, Alexander, if he had had as much 
gold and silver to spend as they had. They did not know how to 
give so much of anything that he would not have given one hun- 
dred times more. So good a heart is planted in him that his gifts 
would have astonished the whole world if he had had such plenty 
of possessions. No one can teach him about largesse. Now I advise 
you to take this chaplet, whose flowers smell sweeter than balm.” 
2678 “Faith, I would be afraid of being blamed,” said Fair Wel- 
coming. He was very agitated: he trembled, started, and sighed; 
he blushed, then grew pale and lost countenance. The Old Woman 
thrust the chaplet into his hands and wanted to force him to take 
it, for he dared not stretch out his hand for it, but said, the better 
to excuse himself, that it would be better for him to refuse it. 
However, he wanted to take it, whatever might happen. 

2689 “The chaplet is very beautiful,” he said, “but it would be better 
that all my clothes were burned to ashes than that I dared take it 

The Old Woman's Intercession 221 

from him. Now suppose that I took it: what could we then say 
to Jealousy the quarrelsome? I know well that she will be filled 
with rage and will tear it to pieces on my head and then kill me 
if she knows that it may have come from there; or I will be taken 
and held prisoner worse than I ever was in my life; or, if I escape 
from her and flee, where could I flee? You will see me buried 
alive if I am ever taken after my flight. I believe that, if I were 
caught in the act of fleeing, action would be brought against me. 
I will not accept the chaplet.” 

“Yes you will, certainly. You will have neither blame nor loss.” 
“And what if she asks me where it came from?” 

“You have more than twenty replies.” 

“All the same, if she asks me, what answer can I make? If 
I am blamed or reprimanded for it, where shall I say that I got 
it? For I shall have to hide or tell some lie. If she knew, I guaran- 
tee you that I would be better off dead than alive.” 

“What shall you say? If you don’t know what, if you have 
no better reply, say that I gave it to you. You know well that 
my reputation is such that you will reap no blame or shame for 
taking anything that I might give you.” 

Without saying anything else, Fair Welcoming took the chaplet, 
put it on his blond hair, and reassured himself. The Old Woman 
laughed and swore by her soul, her body, her bones and skin, that 
no chaplet was ever so becoming on him. Fair Welcoming, ad- 
miring himself in his mirror, looked at it often to see how be- 
coming it was. 

When the Old Woman saw that there was no one there within 
except for the two of them, she sat down quite properly next to 
him and began to preach to him: 

“Ah, Fair Welcoming, how very dear you are to me! How 
beautiful you are, and how worthy! My happy time is all gone, 
and yours is still to come. I shall hardly be able to hold myself 
up except with a stick or crutch, but you are still in your infancy. 
You do not know what you will be doing, but I know very well 
that, sooner or later, whenever it may be, you will pass through 
the flame that burns everyone, and that you will bathe in the same 
steam-room where Venus stews the ladies. I know that you will 
feel her burning brand. I advise you that, before you go to bathe, 







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222 The Overthrow of Treason 

you prepare yourself as you shall hear me teach you, for a young 
man who has no one to teach him goes there to bathe at his peril. 
Then, if you follow my advice, you will come to a good harbor. 

“Know then, that if only, when I was your age, I had been as 
wise about the games of Love as I am now! For then I was a 
very great beauty, but now I must complain and moan when I 
look at my face, which has lost its charms ; and I see the inevitable 
wrinkles whenever I remember how my beauty made the young 
men skip. I made them so struggle that it was nothing if not a 
marvel. I was very famous then; word of my highly renowned 
beauty ran everywhere. At my house there was a crowd so big 
that no man ever saw the like. At night they knocked on my door: 
I was really very hard on them when I failed to keep my promises 
to them, and that happened very often, for I had other company. 
They did many a crazy thing at which I got very angry. Often 
my door was broken down, and many of them got into such battles 
as a result of their hatred and envy that before they were separated 
they lost their members and their lives. If master Algus, the great 
calculator, had wanted to take the trouble and had come with his 
ten figures, by which he certifies and numbers everything, he could 
not, however well he knew how to calculate, have ascertained the 
number of these great quarrels. Those were the days when my 
body was strong and active! As I say, if I had been as wise then 
as I am now, I would possess the value of a thousand pounds of 
sterling silver more than I do now, but I acted too foolishly. 

“I was young and beautiful, foolish and wild, and had never 
been to a school of love where they read in the theory, but I know 
everything by practice. Experiments, which I have followed my 
whole life, have made me wise in love. Now that I know every- 
thing about love, right up to the struggle, it would not be right 
if I were to fail to teach you the delights that I know and have 
often tested. He who gives advice to a young man does well. 
Without fail, it is no wonder that you know nothing, for your beak 
is too yellow. But, in the end, I have so much knowledge upon 
which I can lecture from a chair that I could never finish. One 
should not avoid or despise everything that is very old; there one 
finds both good sense and good custom. Men have proved many 
times that, however much they have acquired, there will remain 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 223 

to them, in the end, at least their sense and their customs. And 
since I had good sense and manners, not without great harm to 
me, I have deceived many a worthy man when he fell captive in 
my nets. But I was deceived by many before I noticed. Then it was 
too late, and I was miserably unhappy. I was already past my 
youth. My door, which formerly was often open, both night and 
day, stayed constantly near its sill. 

“ ‘No one is coming today, no one came yesterday,’ I thought, 
‘unhappy wretch ! I must live in sorrow.’ My woeful heart should 
have left me. Then, when I saw my door, and even myself, at such 
repose, I wanted to leave the country, for I couldn’t endure the 
shame. How could I stand it when those handsome young men 
came along, those who formerly had held me so dear that they 
could not tire themselves, and I saw them look at me sideways 
as they passed by, they who had once been my dear guests? They 
went by near me, bounding along without counting me worth an 
e SS> even those who had loved me most 5 they called me a wrinkled 
old woman and worse before they had passed on by. 

“Besides, my pretty child, no one, unless he were very attentive 
or had experienced great sorrows, would think or know what 
grief gripped my heart when in my thought I remembered the 
lovely speeches, the sweet caresses and pleasures, the kisses and the 
deeply delightful embraces that were so soon stolen away. Stolen? 
Indeed, and without return. It would have been better for me to 
be imprisoned forever in a tower than to have been born so soon. 
God! Into what torment was I put by the fair gifts which had 
failed me, and how wretched their remnants had made me! Alas! 
Why was I born so soon? To whom can I complain, to whom except 
you, my son, whom I hold so dear? I have no other way to avenge 
myself than by teaching my doctrine. Therefore, fair son, I in- 
doctrinate you so that, when instructed, you will avenge me on 
those good-for-nothings; for if God pleases, he will remind you 
of this sermon when he comes. You know that, because of your age, 
you have a very great advantage in retaining the sermon so that it 
will remind you. Plato said: ‘It is true of any knowledge that one 
can keep better the memory of what one learns in one’s infancy.’ 
“Certainly, dear son, my tender young one, if my youth were 
present, as yours is now, the vengeance that I would take on them 






224 T* he Overthrow of Treason 

could not rightly be written. Everywhere I came I would work 
such wonders with those scoundrels, who valued me so lightly and 
who vilified and despised me when they so basely passed by near 
me, that one would never have heard the like. They and others 
would pay for their pride and spite ; I would have no pity on them. 
For with the intelligence that God has given me — just as I have 
preached to you — do you know what condition I would put them 
in? I would so pluck them and seize their possessions, even wrongly 
and perversely, that I would make them dine on worms and lie 
naked on dunghills, especially and first of all those who loved me 
with more loyal heart and who more willingly took trouble to 
serve and honor me. If I could, I wouldn’t leave them anything 
worth one bud of garlic until I had everything in my purse and 
had put them all into poverty ; I would make them stamp their 
feet in living rage behind me. But to regret it is worth nothing; 
what has gone cannot come. I would never be able to hold any 
man, for my face is so wrinkled that they don’t even protect them- 
selves against my threat. A long time ago the scoundrels who 
despised me told me so, and from that time on I took to weeping. 
O God! But it still pleases me when I think back on it. I rejoice 
in my thought and my limbs become lively again when I remember 
the good times and the gay life for which my heart so strongly 
yearns. Just to think of it and to remember it all makes my body 
young again. Remembering all that happened gives me all the 
blessings of the world, so that however they may have deceived 
me, at least I have had my fun. A young lady is not idle when she 
leads a gay life, especially she who thinks about acquiring enough 
to take care of her expenses. 

“Then I came to this country, where I met your lady, who has 
put me into her service to guard you in her enclosure. May God, 
the lord and guardian of all, grant that I may make a good job 
of it! With your fair conduct, I shall certainly do so. But to 
guard you would have been perilous because of the wondrously 
great beauty that Nature has given you, if she had not taught you 
so many abilities, so much good sense, worth, and grace. Now time 
and occasion have come to the point where, without disturbance, 
we can say whatever we want, a little more than usual. I must 
advise you completely, and you should not wonder if I interrupt 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 225 

my talk a little. I must tell you that, before the attack, I didn’t 
want to put you in the way of love, but if you want to get in- 
volved with it, I will gladly show the roads and the paths by 
which I should have traveled before my beauty had gone.” 

Then the Old Woman grew quiet and sighed, to hear what he 
wanted to say, but she delayed hardly at all j for, when she saw 
that he was being careful to listen to her and remain quiet, she 
took up her subject again, thinking, “Whoever says nothing agrees 
to everything. Since he is pleased to hear all that I say, I can 
say everything without fear.” 

Then she began her babbling again and spoke like a false old 
woman, a serf. She thought by her doctrine to make me lick honey 
from thorns, when she wanted me to be called friend without being 
loved par amour. Thus Fair Welcoming, who remembered the 
whole story, told me afterward. For, if he had been such that he 
believed her, he would certainly have betrayed me; but he com- 
mitted no treason toward me for anything that she said. He so 
guaranteed to me by oath; he assured me in no other way. 

“O fair, most sweet son,” said the Old Woman, “O beautiful 
tender flesh, I want to teach you of the games of Love so that 
when you have learned them you will not be deceived. Shape your- 
self according to my art, for no one who is not well informed can 
pass through this course of games without selling his livestock to 
get enough money. Now give your attention to hearing and under- 
standing, and to remembering everything that I say, for I know 
the whole story. 

“Fair son, whoever wants to enjoy loving and its sweet ills 
which are so bitter must know the commandments of Love but 
must beware that he does not know love itself. I would tell you all 
the commandments here if I did not certainly see that, by nature, 
you have an overflowing measure of those that you should have. 
Well numbered, there are ten of them that you ought to know. But 
he who encumbers himself with the last two is a great fool; they 
are not worth a false penny. I allow you eight of them, but who- 
ever follows Love in the other two wastes his study and becomes 
mad. One should not study them in a school. He who wants a 
lover to have a generous heart and to put love in only one place 
has given too evil a burden to lovers. It is a false text, false in 






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226 The Overthrow of Treason 

the letter. In it, Love, the son of Venus, lies, and no man should 
believe him 5 whoever does will pay dearly, as you will see by the 
end of my sermon. 

“Fair son, never be generous ; and keep your heart in several 
places, never in one. Don’t give it, and don’t lend it, but sell 
it very dearly and always to the highest bidder. See that he who 
buys it can never get a bargain: no matter how much he may give, 
never let him have anything in return; it were better if he were 
to burn or hang or maim himself. In all cases keep to these points: 
have your hands closed to giving and open to taking. Certainly, 
giving is great folly, except giving a little for attracting men 
when one plans to make them one’s prey or when one expects such a 
return for the gift that one could not have sold it for more. I 
certainly allow you such giving. The gift is good where he who 
gives multiplies his gift and gains; he who is certain of his profit 
cannot repent of his gift. I can indeed consent to such a gift. 

“Next, about the bow and the five arrows which are very full 
of good qualities and which wound so readily, know how to fire 
them so wisely that Love, the good archer, never drew a better 
bow, fair son, than do you, who have many times launched your 
arrows. But you have not always known where the blow has fallen, 
for when one fires into the pack, the shot may hit someone for 
whom the archer does not care. But, whoever considers your man- 
ner, you know so well how to draw a bow and how to stretch nets 
that I can teach you nothing about it. With your ability, you can 
wound such a person that, if it please God, your prize will be 

“Moreover, it is unnecessary for me to bother teaching you 
about decorating your garments or about the baubles of which 
you will make your ornaments, so that you will seem worth more 
to men. Such tutelage can never be important to you when you 
know by heart the song that you have heard me sing so much, 
as we went out to play, about Pygmalion’s image. Take care to 
ornament yourself and you will know more than an ox about how 
to work. There is no need for you to learn these trades. And if 
all this will not suffice you, you will hear me say something later, 
if you want to hear me out, from which you will be able to take 
an example. But I can tell you this much: if you want to choose 
a lover, I advise you to give your love, but not too firmly, to that 

T*he Old Woman’s Intercession 22 7 

fair young man who so prizes you. Love others wisely, and I 
will seek out for you enough of them so that you can amass great 
wealth from them. It is good to become acquainted with rich men 
if their hearts are not mean and miserly and if one knows how to 
pluck them well. Fair Welcoming may know whomever he wishes, 
provided that he gives each one to understand that he would not 
want to take another lover for a thousand marks of fine milled 
gold. He should swear that if he had wanted to allow his rose, 
which was in great demand, to be taken by another, he would have 
been weighed down with gold and jewels. But, he should go on, 
his pure heart was so loyal that no man would ever stretch out his 
hand for it except that man alone who was offering his hand at 
that moment. 

“If there are a thousand, he should say to each: ‘Fair lord, you 
alone will have the rose; no one else will ever have a part. May 
God fail me if I ever divide it . 5 He may so swear and pledge his 
faith to them. If he perjures himself, it doesn’t matter; God laughs 
at such an oath and pardons it gladly. 

“Jupiter and the gods laughed when lovers perjured themselves; 
and many times the gods who loved far amour perjured them- 
selves. When Jupiter reassured his wife Juno, he swore by the 
Styx to her in a loud voice and falsely perjured himself. Since the 
gods give them, such examples should assure pure lovers that they 
too may swear falsely by all the saints, convents, and temples. But 
he is a great fool, so help me God, who believes in the oaths of 
lovers, for their hearts are too fickle. Young men are in no way 
stable— nor, often times, are the old— and therefore they belie the 
oaths and faith that they have given. 

Know also another truth : he who is lord of the fair should 
collect his market-toll everywhere; and he who cannot at one mill 

Hey! to another for his whole round! The mouse who has but 
one hole for retreat has a very poor refuge and makes a very 
dangerous provision for himself. It is just so with a woman: she 
is the mistress of all the markets, since everyone works to have 
her. She should take possessions everywhere. If, after she had 
reflected well, she wanted only one lover, she would have a very 
foolish idea. For, by Saint Lifard of Meun, whoever gives her 
love in a single place has a heart neither free nor unencumbered, 
but basely enslaved. Such a woman, who takes trouble to love one 






1 3 2 1 1 

228 Tfhe Overthrow of Treason 

man alone, has indeed deserved to have a full measure of pain and 
woe. If she lacks comfort from him, she has no one to comfort 
her, and those who give their hearts in a single place are those 
who most lack comfort. In the end, when they are bored or irri- 
tated, all these men fly from their women. 

“No woman can come to a good end. Dido, the queen of Car- 
thage, could not hold Aeneas, no matter how much she had done 
for him; she had received him poor, a wretched fugitive from 
the fair land of Troy, his birthplace, and had reclothed and fed 
him. Because of her great love for him, she honored his com- 
panions and, to serve and please him, had his ships rebuilt. To 
obtain his love, she gave him her city, her body, her possessions; 
and he so reassured her in turn that he promised and swore to her 
that he was and would forever be hers and would never leave 
her. She, however, had no joy of him, for the betrayer, without 
permission, fled by sea in his ships. As a result, the beautiful Dido 
lost her life. Before the second day, she killed herself in her 
chamber with the sword that he had given her in her own hand. 
Remembering her lover and seeing that she had lost her love, 
she took the sword, quite naked, raised it point upward and placed 
it under her two breasts, then let herself fall on it. It was a great 
pity to see, whoever saw her do such a deed. He would have been 
a hard man who was not touched by pity when he thus saw the 
beautiful Dido on the point of the blade. Her sorrow over him 
who tricked her was so great that she fixed the blade within her 

“Phyllis was another. She waited so long for Demophoon that 
she hanged herself because he overstayed the time when he was 
to return and thus broke both his oath and his faith. 

“What did Paris do with Oenone? She had given him her heart 
and her body, and he gave his love in return. But straightway he 
took back his gift. For on a tree by the river, instead of on paper, 
he had carved with his knife tiny letters that were not worth a 
tart. They were cut in the bark of a poplar and said that the 
Xanthus would turn back on itself as soon as he left her. Now the 
Xanthus may return to its source, for afterward he left her for 

“Again, what did Jason do with Medea? He deceived her shame- 
fully, the false one, when he belied his faith to her after she had 

1 3 22 9 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 229 

saved him from death. By means of her spells she delivered Jason 
from the bulls who shot fire from their mouths and who came to 
burn him or smash him to bits; he felt no fire and was not even 
wounded. She made the serpent drunk so that it could not waken, 
so soundly did she make it sleep. As for the knights born of the 
earth, warlike and enraged, who wanted to kill Jason, she worked 
a spell so that when he threw the stone among them they attacked 
and killed each other. And it was through her art and her potion 
that she enabled him to get the Golden Fleece. Later, in order 
the better to bind Jason to herself, she renewed the youth of Aeson. 
She wanted nothing from him but that he love her as he had 
before and that he might look upon her merits so that he might 
the better keep his faith to her. Then he left her, the evil trickster, 
the false, disloyal thief, and when she discovered his desertion, 
she took her children and, because she had had them by Jason, 
strangled them in her grief and rage. In doing so she did not bear 
herself wisely; she abandoned a mother’s pity and acted worse than 
an embittered stepmother. I could tell you a thousand examples of 
the same sort, but I would have too long a story to tell. 

“Briefly, all men betray and deceive women; all are sensualists, 
taking their pleasure anywhere. Therefore we should deceive them 
in return, not fix our hearts on one. Any woman who does so is a 
fool; she should have several friends and, if possible, act so as 
to delight them to the point where they are driven to distraction. 
If she has no graces, let her learn them. Let her be haughtier to- 
ward those who, because of her hauteur, will take more trouble to 
serve her in order to deserve her love, but let her scheme to take 
from those who make light of her love. She should know games 
and songs and flee from quarrels and disputes. If she is not 
beautiful, she should pretty herself; the ugliest should wear the 
most coquettish adornments. 

“Now if, to her great sorrow, she should see her beautiful blond 
curls falling, or if, because of a serious illness, she has to have 
it cut off and her beauty spoiled, or if it happens that some roisterer 
has torn it out in anger so that she can do nothing with him to 
recover her long locks, she should have someone bring her a 
dead woman’s hair, or pads of light silk, stuffed into shapes. 
Over her ears she should wear such horns that they could not be 
surpassed by stag, billy goat, or unicorn, even if he had to burst 




1 33 1 3 


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1 3 34 1 


1 335 1 

230 j the Overthrow of Treason 

his forehead 3 if they need color, she should tint them with plant 
extracts, for fruits, woods, leaves, bark, and roots have strong 
medicinal properties. Lest she should suffer loss of complexion, a 
heartrending experience, she must make sure always to have pots 
of moistening skin creams in her rooms, so that she may hide away 
to put on her paint j but she must be very careful not to let any 
of her guests notice or see her or she would be in trouble. 

“If she has a lovely neck and white chest, she should see that 
her dressmaker lower her neckline, so that it reveals a half foot, in 
front and back, of her fine white flesh j thus she may deceive more 
easily. And if her shoulders are too large to be pleasing at dances 
and balls, she should wear a dress of fine cloth and thus appear less 
ungainly. And if, because of insect bites or pimples, she doesn’t 
have beautiful, well-kept hands, she should be careful not to neglect 
them but should remove the spots with a needle or wear gloves 
so that the pimples and scabs will not show. 

“If her breasts are too heavy she should take a scarf or towel 
to bind them against her chest and wrap it right around her ribs, 
securing it with needle and thread or by a knot; thus she can be 
active at her play. 

“And like a good little girl she should keep her chamber of 
Venus tidy. If she is intelligent and well brought up, she will 
leave no cobwebs around but will burn or destroy them, tear them 
down and sweep them up, so that no grime can collect anywhere. 

“If her feet are ugly, she should keep them covered and wear 
fine stockings if her legs are large. In short, unless she’s very 
stupid she should hide any defect she knows of. 

“For example, if she knows that her breath is foul she should 
spare no amount of trouble never to fast, never to speak to others 
on an empty stomach, and, if possible, to keep her mouth away 
from people’s noses. 

“When she has the impulse to laugh, she should laugh dis- 
creetly and prettily, so that she shows little dimples at the corners 
of her mouth. She should avoid puffing her cheeks and screwing 
her face up in grimaces. Her lips should be kept closed and her 
teeth covered j a woman should always laugh with her mouth 
closed, for the sight of a mouth stretched like a gash across the 
face is not a pretty one. If her teeth are not even, but ugly and 

The Old Woman's Intercession 231 

quite crooked, she will be thought little of if she shows them 
when she laughs. 

“There is also a proper way to cry. But every woman is adept 
enough to cry well on any occasion, for, even though the tears are 
not caused by grief or shame or hurt, they are always ready. All 
women cry ; they are used to crying in whatever way they want. 
But no man should be disturbed when he sees such tears flowing 
as fast as rain, for these tears, these sorrows and lamentations 
flow only to trick him. A woman’s weeping is nothing but a ruse; 
she will overlook no source of grief. But she must be careful not 
to reveal, in word or deed, what she is thinking of. 

“It is also proper to behave suitably at the table. Before sitting 
down, she should look around the house and let everyone under- 
stand that she herself knows how to run a house. Let her come 
and go, in the front rooms and in back, and be the last to sit 
down, being sure to wait a little before she finally takes her seat. 
Then, when she is seated at table, she should serve everyone as 
well as possible. She should carve in front of the others and pass 
the bread to those around her. To deserve praise, she should serve 
food in front of the one who shares her plate. She should put a 
thigh or wing before him, or, in his presence, carve the beef or 
pork, meat or fish, depending upon what food there happens to be. 
She should never be niggardly in her servings as long as there is 
anyone unsatisfied. Let her guard against getting her fingers wet 
up to the joint in the sauce, against smearing her lips with soup, 
garlic, or fat meat, against piling up too large morsels and stuffing 
her mouth. When she has to moisten a piece in any sauce, either 
sauce verte , cameline , or jauce , she should hold the bit with her 
fingertips and bring it carefully up to her mouth, so that no drop 
of soup, sauce, or pepper falls on her breast. She must drink so 
neatly that she doesn’t spill anything on herself, for anyone who 
happened to see her spill would think her either very clumsy or 
very greedy. Again, she must take care not to touch her drinking 
cup while she has food in her mouth. She should wipe her mouth 
so clean that grease will not stick to the cup, and should be par- 
ticularly careful about her upper lip, for, when there is grease on 
it, untidy drops of it will show in her wine. She should drink 
only a little at a time, however great her appetite, and never empty 







232 The Overthrow of Treason 

a cup, large or small, in one breath, but rather drink little and 
often, so that she doesn’t go around causing others to say that 
she gorges or drinks too much while her mouth is full. She should 
avoid swallowing the rim of her cup, as do many greedy nurses 
who are so foolish that they pour wine down their hollow throats 
as if they were casks, who pour it down in such huge gulps that 
they become completely fuddled and dazed. Now a lady must be 
careful not to get drunk, for a drunk, man or woman, cannot keep 
anything secret ; and when a woman gets drunk, she has no de- 
fenses at all in her, but blurts out whatever she thinks and aban- 
dons herself to anyone when she gives herself over to such bad 

“She must also beware of falling asleep at the table, for she 
would be much less pleasant; many disagreeable things can happen 
to those who take such naps. There is no sense in napping in 
places where one should remain awake, and many have been de- 
ceived in this way, have many times fallen, either forward or 
backward or sideways, and broken an arm or head or ribs. Let a 
woman beware lest such a nap overtake her; let her recall Pali- 
nurus, the helmsman of Aeneas’s ship. While awake, he steered it 
well, but when sleep conquered him, he fell from the rudder into 
the sea and drowned within sight of his companions, who after- 
ward mourned greatly for him. 

“Further, a lady must be careful not to be too reluctant to play, 
for she might wait around so long that no one would want to 
offer her his hand. She should seek the diversion of love as long 
as youth deflects her in that direction, for, when old age assails 
a woman, she loses both the joy and the assault of Love. A wise 
woman will gather the fruit of love in the flower of her age. The 
unhappy woman loses her time who passes it without enjoying 
love. And if she disbelieves this advice of mine, which I give for 
the profit of all, be sure that she will be sorry when age withers 
her. But I know that women will believe me, particularly those 
who are sensible, and will stick to our rules and will say many 
paternosters for my soul, when I am dead who now teach and 
comfort them. I know that this lesson will be read in many schools. 

“O fair sweet son, if you live — for I see well that you are writ- 
ing down in the book of your heart the whole of my teaching, 
and that, when you depart from me, you will study more, if it 


1 The Old Woman's Intercession 233 

please God, and will become a master like me — if you live I confer 
on you the license to teach, in spite of all chancellors, in chambers 
or in cellars, in meadow, garden, or thicket, under a tent or behind 
the tapestries, and to inform the students in wardrobes, attics, 
pantries, and stables, if you find no more pleasant places. And may 
my lesson be well taught when you have learned it well! 

“A woman should be careful not to stay shut up too much, for 
while she remains in the house, she is less seen by everybody, her 
beauty is less well-known, less desired, and in demand less. She 
should go often to the principal church and go visiting, to wed- 
dings, on trips, at games, feasts, and round dances, for in such 
places the God and Goddess of Love keep their schools and sing 
mass to their disciples. 

“But of course, if she is to be admired above others, she has to 
be well-dressed. When she is well turned out and goes through 
the streets, she should carry herself well, neither too stiffly nor 
too loosely, not too upright nor too bent over, but easily and 
graciously in any crowd. She should move her shoulders and sides 
so elegantly that no one might find anyone with more beautiful 
movements. And she should walk daintily in her pretty little 
shoes, so well made that they fit her feet without any wrinkles 

“If her dress drags or hangs down near the pavement, she should 
raise it on the sides or in front as if to have a little ventilation or 
as if she were in the habit of tucking up her gown in order to step 
more freely. Then she should be careful to let all the passersby see 
the fine shape of her exposed foot. And if she is the sort to wear 
a coat she should wear it so that it will not too much hinder the 
view of her lovely body which it covers. Now she will want to 
show off her body and the cloth in which she is dressed, which 
should be neither too heavy nor too light, with threads of silver 
and small pearls, and particularly to show off her purse, which 
should be right out for everyone to see; therefore she should 
take the coat in both hands and widen and extend her arms, whether 
on clean streets or on muddy ones. Remembering the wheel which 
the peacock makes with his tail, she should do the same with her 
coat, so that she displays openly both her body and the fur linings 
of her clothing, squirrel or whatever costly fur she has used, to any- 
body she might see staring at her. 



1 3545 

234 The Overthrow of Treason 

1 3 575 “Now if her face is not handsome, she must be clever and show 
people her beautiful priceless blond tresses and her well-coifed 
neck. A beautiful head of hair is a very pleasant thing. 

13582 “A woman must always take care to imitate the she-wolf when 
she wants to steal ewes, for, in order not to fail completely, the 
wolf must attack a thousand to capture one; she doesn’t know 
which she will take before she has taken it. So a woman ought to 
spread her nets everywhere to catch all men; since she cannot 
know which of them she may have the grace to catch, at least she 
ought to hook onto all of them in order to be sure of having one 
for herself. If she does so, it should never happen that she will have 
no catch at all from among the thousands of fools who will rub up 
against her flanks. Indeed she may catch several, for art is a great 
aid to nature. 

13601 “And if she does hook several of those who want to put her 
on the spit, let her be careful, however events run, not to make 
appointments at the same hour with two of them. If several were 
to appear together they would think themselves deceived and they 
might even leave her. An event like this could set her back a 
long way, for at the least she would lose what each had brought 
her. She should never leave them anything on which they might 
grow fat, but plunge them into poverty so great that they may die 
miserable and in debt; in this way she will be rich, for what re- 
mains theirs is lost to her. 

13617 “She should not love a poor man, for a poor man is good for 
nothing; even if he were Ovid or Homer, he wouldn’t be worth 
two drinking mugs. Nor should she love a foreign traveler, for 
his heart is as flighty as his body, which lodges in many places; no, 
I advise her not to love a foreigner. However, if during his stay 
he offers her money or jewels she should take them all and put 
them in her coffer; then he may do as he pleases in haste or at 
his leisure. 

13631 “She must be very careful not to love or value any man who 
is too elegant or who is haughty about his beauty, for it is pride 
which tempts him. The man who pleases himself, never doubt 
it, incurs the wrath of God; so says Ptolemy, the great lover of 
knowledge. Such a man has so evil and bitter a heart that he 
cannot love well. What he says to one woman he says to all. He 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 235 

tricks many to despoil and rob them. I have seen many com- 
plaints of maidens thus deceived. 

“And if any man, either an honest man or a swindler, should 
make promises, hoping to beg for her love and bind her to him by 
vows, she may exchange vows, but she must be careful not to put 
herself at his mercy unless she gets hold of the money also. If he 
makes any promise in writing, she must see if there is any decep- 
tion or if his good intentions are those of a true heart. She may 
then soon write a reply, but not without some delay. Delay ex- 
cites lovers as long as it is not too great. 

“Now when she hears a lover’s request, she should be reluctant 
to grant all her love, nor should she refuse everything, but try 
to keep him in a state of balance between fear and hope. When he 
makes his demands more pressing and she does not yield him her 
love, which has bound him so strongly, she must arrange things, 
through her strength and her craft, so that hope constantly grows 
little by little as fear diminishes until peace and concord bring 
the two together. In giving in to him, she, who knows so many 
wily ruses, should swear by God and by the saints that she has 
never wished to give herself to anyone, no matter how well he 
may have pleaded; then she should say, ‘My lord, this is my 
all; by the faith which I owe to Saint Peter of Rome, I give myself 
to you out of pure love, not because of your gifts. The man isn’t 
born for whom I would do this for any gift, no matter how greatly 
he desired it. I have refused many a worthy man, for many have 
gazed adoringly at me. I think you must have cast a spell over 
me; you have sung me a wicked song.’ Then she should embrace 
him closely and kiss him so that he will be even better deluded. 

“But if she wants my advice, she should think only of what 
she can get. She is a fool who does not pluck her lover down to 
the last feather, for the better she can pluck the more she will 
have, and she will be more highly valued when she sells herself 
more dearly. Men scorn what they can get for nothing; they don’t 
value it at a single husk. If they lose it, they care little, certainly 
not as much as does one who has bought it at a high price. 

“Here then are the proper ways to pluck men: get your servants, 
the chambermaid, the nurse, your sister, even your mother, if she 
is not too particular, to help in the task and do all they can to get 





236 7 'he Overthrow of Treason 

the lover to give them coats, jackets, gloves, or mittens ; like kites, 
they will plunder whatever they can seize from him, so that he 
may in no way escape from their hands before he has spent his 
last penny. Let him give them money and jewels as though he were 
playing with buttons instead of money. The prey is captured much 
sooner when it is taken by several hands. 

13725 “On occasion let them say to him, ‘Sir, since we must tell you 
so, don’t you see that my lady needs a dress? How can you allow 
her to go without? By Saint Gile! If she wanted to be with a cer- 
tain one in this town, she would be dressed like a queen and ride 
out in fine trappings. My lady, why do you wait so long before 
asking him for it? You are too shy toward him when he leaves 
you thus in your destitution.’ Then, however pleased she is, she 
should order them to keep quiet, she, who has perhaps relieved 
him of so much that she has harmed him seriously. 

1 3741 “And if she sees that he recognizes that he may be giving her 
more than he ought and that he may think himself seriously 
harmed by the large gifts on which he is in the habit of feeding 
her, and if she feels that she does not dare urge him to give any- 
thing, then she should ask him to lend to her, swearing that she 
is quite ready to pay him back on any day that he will name. But 
I certainly forbid that anything ever be given back. 

13753 “If another of her friends comes back — she has several of them, 
perhaps, but has not given her heart to any one of them, although 
she calls them all her sweethearts — she should complain, like a 
wise person, that her best clothes and her money are running out 
every day for usury, and that as a result she is in such great 
anguish and torment of heart that she will do nothing to please 
him unless he gets back her pledges. If the young man is not 
very wise and is blessed with money, he will put his hand to his 
purse immediately or in some way bring about the release of those 
pledges that don’t need to be bought back but are, perhaps, all 
locked up on his account within some iron-bound coffer, since it 
may be necessary to hide them in order to be the better believed, 
if he searches her closet or clothes pole, until she gets the money. 
She should reserve a third friend for a similar trick ; I advise 
her to ask him for a silver belt, a dress, or a wimple, and then 
for money which she can spend. 

“And if he has nothing to bring her and swears, in order to 


The Old Woman’s Intercession 237 

comfort her, and promises by his foot and his hand that he will 
bring her something the next day, she should turn deaf ears to 
him. Let her believe nothing; all his tales are tricks. All men 
are very expert liars. These wastrels have told me more lies, made 
me more vows and oaths in past times than there are saints in 
paradise. When he has nothing to pay with, at least let him pledge 
at the wine merchant’s for two, three, or four pennies, or let him 
go have a good time somewhere else outside. 

“A woman who is not a simpleton should pretend to be a 
coward, to tremble, be fearful, distraught, and anxious when she 
must receive her lover; she should let him understand as true 
that she is receiving him in very great peril when she deceives 
her husband for him, or her guardians or her parents, and that if 
the thing that she wants to do in secret were open, she would be 
dead without fail. She should swear that he cannot stay if his 
presence is to bring about her instant death. Afterward, when 
she has enchanted him well, he will remain at her will. 

“She should also remember well, when her sweetheart is to 
come, to receive him through the window, if she sees that no one 
will notice him, even though she might better do so through the 
door. She must swear that she would be destroyed and dead, and 
he no more, if it were known that he was within. He could not 
be protected with sharp weapons, with helm, halberd, pike, or 
club, with hutches, cabinets, or chambers, from being cut to pieces, 
limb by limb. 

“Next, a lady must sigh and pretend to get angry, to attack 
him and run at him and say that he hasn’t been late without some 
reason, and that some other woman was keeping him at home, 
someone whose solaces were more pleasing to him, and that now 
she is indeed betrayed when he hates her on account of another. 
She should certainly be called a miserable creature, when she loves 
without being loved. When the man, with his silly ideas, hears 
this speech, he will believe, quite incorrectly, that she loves him 
very loyally and that she may be more jealous of him than Vulcan 
ever was of his wife Venus, when he found her taken in the act 
with Mars. The fool had so spied upon them that he captured the 
two of them in strong bonds, as they were joined and linked in 
the game of love, in the nets that he had forged of brass. 

“As soon as Vulcan knew that he had caught the two of them 







238 The Overthrow of Treason 

in the act with the net that he had put around the bed — he was a 
great fool when he dared to do so, for he who thinks that he can 
keep his wife to himself has very little knowledge — he had the 
gods come quickly. They laughed a lot and made fun when they 
saw them in this situation. Nearly all of the gods were amazed by 
the beauty of Venus, who made many complaints and laments, 
shamed and angered as she was at having been thus captured; 
never had she experienced such shame. But it was no great wonder 
if Venus gave herself to Mars, for Vulcan was so ugly and so 
blackened from his forge, on his hands, his face, and his neck, that 
Venus would not have loved him for anything, even though she 
called him her husband. No, by God, not even if he had been 
Absalom, with his blond locks, or Paris, son of the king of Troy, 
would she ever have been compliant with him, since she, the fair 
one, knew very well what all women know how to do. 

“Moreover, women are born free. The law, which takes away 
the freedom in which Nature placed them, has put them under 
conditions. Nature is not so stupid that she has Marotte born 
only for Robichon, if we put our wits to work, nor Robichon only 
for Marietta or Agnes or Perette. Instead, fair son, never doubt 
that she has made all us women for all men and all men for all 
women, each woman common to every man and every man com- 
mon to each woman. Thus, when they are engaged, captured by 
law, and married, in order to prevent quarreling, contention, and 
murder and to help in the rearing of children, who are their joint 
responsibility, they still exert themselves in every way, these 
ladies and girls, ugly or beautiful, to return to their freedoms. 
They maintain their freedom as best they can; as a result, many 
evils will come, do come, and have come many times in the past. 
In fact, I would count over ten of them straightway, but I pass 
on, since I would be worn out and you overburdened with listen- 
ing before I had numbered them. 

“In former times, when a man saw the woman who suited him 
best, he wanted to carry her off immediately, if someone stronger 
did not take her away from him; and he left her, if he pleased, 
when he had done his will with her. In former times, too, they 
killed one another and abandoned the care and feeding of their 
offspring. This was the time before men made marriages, through 
the counsel of wise men. On this subject Horace has said some- 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 239 

thing good and true, if anyone wants to believe him. He knew 
very well how to instruct and teach, and I would like to repeat 
his statement here, for a wise woman is not ashamed when she 
recounts a good authority. 

“Formerly, before the time of Helen, there were battles spurred 
by con, in which those who fought for it perished with great suffer- 
ing; but the dead are not known when we do not read about them 
in written records. For these were not the first nor will they be 
the last through whom wars will come and have come between 
those who will keep and have kept their hearts set on the love of 
woman. As a result, many have lost body and soul, and they will 
do so if the world endures. 

“But pay good attention to Nature, for in order that you may 
see more clearly what wondrous power she has I can give you many 
examples which will show this power in detail. When the bird 
from the green wood is captured and put in a cage, very atten- 
tively and delicately cared for there within, you think that he sings 
with a gay heart as long as he lives ; but he longs for the branching 
woods that he loved naturally, and he would want to be on the 
trees, no matter how well one could feed him. He always plans 
and studies how to regain his free life. He tramples his food under 
his feet with the ardor that his heart fills him with, and he goes 
trailing around his cage, searching in great anguish for a way to 
find a window or hole through which he might fly away to the 
woods. In the same way, you know, all women of every condition, 
whether girls or ladies, have a natural inclination to seek out volun- 
tarily the roads and paths by which they might come to freedom, 
for they always want to gain it. 

It is the same, I tell you, with the man who goes into a 
religious order and comes to repent of it afterward. He needs 
only a little more grief to hang himself. He complains and goes 
frantic until he is completely tormented by the great desires 
that come to him. He wants to find out how he can regain the 
freedom that he has lost. The will is not moved on account of 
any habit that one may take, no matter what place one goes to 
give oneself up to religion. 

“He is like the foolish fish who passed through the mouth 
of the trap-net and then, when he wanted to get back out, had to 
remain, in spite of himself, within his prison forever, for there 








The Overthrow of Treason 

was no chance to go back. The others who remained outside rushed 
together when they saw him. When they saw how he was turning 
and appearing to enjoy himself they thought that he really was 
having a good time, one of great diversion and joy. They thought 
so especially when they saw very clearly that there was plenty of 
food within, as much as each of them might ask for, and they 
would willingly enter there. They went all around the trap, twisted 
and bumped and examined it so much that they found the hole 
and threw themselves through it. But when they had come inside, 
they were captured and held forever ; and afterward they could 
not keep from wanting to go back, but it was not possible to do 
so, since they were captured more securely than in a hoop-net. 
They had to live there in great sorrow until death delivered them 
from it. 

“That is just the sort of life that a young man goes in search 
of when he gives himself up, for he will never have shoes or hood 
or cowl so large that Nature may be hidden in his heart. Then 
when his state of freedom is gone he is dead and in a miserable 
situation if, through great humility, he does not make a virtue 
of necessity. But Nature, who makes him feel freedom, cannot lie. 
Even Horace, who knows well the meaning of such a thing, tells 
us that if anyone wanted to take up a pitchfork to protect himself 
against Nature and shove her out of himself, she would come back, 
and I agree. Nature will always run back, and she will not remain 
away on account of any habit. What good does it do to insist? 
Every creature wants to return to its nature ; it will never leave 
it because of the violence of force or necessity. This fact must 
give a good deal of excuse to Venus, since she wanted to use her 
freedom, and to all ladies who play around, no matter how much 
they are bound in marriage, for Nature makes them act thus be- 
cause she wants to draw them to freedom. Nature is a very strong 
thing; she surpasses even training. 

“Fair son, take a kitten that had never seen a rat, large or small. 
If it had been fed for a long time, with the most careful attention, 
on delicate fare, without ever seeing a rat or a mouse, and then 
saw a mouse come, there is nothing that could hold it back, if 
one let it escape, from going immediately to seize the mouse. He 
would leave all his other food for it, no matter how hungry he 

The Old Woman’s Intercession 241 

was; and no matter what trouble one went to, nothing could make 
peace between them. 

“If anyone could raise a colt that had never seen a mare right 
to the time that it was a great charger bearing saddles and stirrups, 
and then afterward a mare came, you would hear him neigh im- 
mediately, and he would want to run against her if there were no 
one to rescue her. A black horse will mate not only with a black 
mare, but with a sorrel or dapple or gray, if the rein or bridle 
doesn’t hold him back, since he doesn’t examine any of them as 
long as he may find them untied or can jump on them. He would 
want to attack them all. And if he didn’t stick to the black mare, 
she would come all the way to a black horse, indeed to a sorrel or 
a gray, just as her will urges her. The first that she saw would 
be her husband, since she in turn doesn’t examine any of them as 
long as she may find them untied. 

“And what I say about the black mare, about the sorrel horse 
and mare and the gray and black horses, I say about the cow and 
bull and the ewe and ram; for we do not doubt that these males 
want all females as their wives. Never doubt, fair son, that in the 
same way all females want all males. All women willingly receive 
them. By my soul, fair son, it is thus with every man and every 
woman as far as natural appetite goes. The law restrains them 
little from exercising it. A little! but too much, it seems to me, 
for when the law has put them together, it wants either of them’ 
the boy or the girl, to be able to have only the other, at least as 
long as he or she lives. But at the same time they are tempted to 
use their free will. I know very well that such a thing does rise up, 
only some keep themselves from it because of shame, others be- 
cause they fear trouble; but Nature controls them to that end just 
as she does the animals that we were just speaking of. I know 
it from my own experience, for I always took trouble to be loved 
by all men. And if I had not feared shame, which holds back and 
subdues many hearts, when I went along the streets where I al- 
ways wanted to go — so dressed up in adornments that a dressed-up 
doll would have been nothing in comparison — I would have re- 
ceived all or at least many of those young boys, if I had been able 
and if it had pleased them, who pleased me so much when they 
threw me those sweet glances. (Sweet God! What pity for them 




242 The Overthrow of Treason 

seized me when those looks came toward me! ) I wanted them all 
one after the other, if I could have satisfied them all. And it 
seemed to me that, if they could have, they would willingly have 
received me. I do not except prelates or monks, knights, burgers, 
or canons, clerical or lay, foolish or wise, as long as they were 
at the height of their powers. They would have jumped out of 
their orders if they had not thought that they might fail when 
they asked for my love; but if they had known my thought and 
the whole of our situations they would not have been in such 

14133 doubt. And I think that several, if they had dared, would have 
broken their marriages. If one of them had had me in private he 
would not have remembered to be faithful. No man would have 
kept his situation, his faith, vows, or religion unless he were some 
demented fool who was smitten by love and loved his sweetheart 
loyally. Such a man, perhaps, would have called me paid and 
thought about his own possessions, which he would not have given 
up at any price. But there are very few such lovers, so help me 
God and Saint Amand; I certainly think so. If he spoke to me 
for a long time, no matter what he said, lies or truth, I could have 
made him move everything. Whatever he was, secular, or in an 
order, with a belt of red leather or of cord, no matter what head- 
dress he wore, I think that he would have carried on with me if 
he thought that I wanted him or even if I had allowed him. Thus 
Nature regulates us by inciting our hearts to pleasure. For this 
reason Venus deserves less blame for loving Mars. 

14161 “Just as Mars and Venus, who loved each other, were in such 
a situation, there were many of the gods who would have wished 
while they were making fun of Mars, that the others had been 
making fun of them in the same situation. Afterward, Dan Vulcan 
would rather have lost two thousand marks than that anyone 
should ever have known about that business, for when the two 
who had such shame saw that everyone knew it, they then did in 
front of people’s faces what they had done before in secret. Never 
afterward were they ashamed of the deed; the gods told the 
story about them and published it until it was well known through- 
out the heaven. The worse the deed was, the angrier Vulcan got, 
and could never afterward take any counsel. As the letter bears 
witness, it would have been better for him to suffer than to have 
stretched his nets near the bed; it would have been better not to 

T*he Old Woman's Intercession 243 

show emotion, but instead to pretend that he knew nothing, if 
he wanted to have the good graces of Venus, whom he held so dear. 

“Thus a man who watches over his wife or his sweetheart should 
take care when his silly spying works so well that he catches her 
in the act. For you may be sure that she will do worse when she 
is caught. And he who burns with that cruel sickness, jealousy, 
and captures her with his ingenuity will never, after the capture, 
have from her either a fair look or good service. Jealousy is a 
very foolish disease. It makes the jealous husband burn with worry. 
But the woman should pretend to be jealous and make a pretense 
of suffering from this disease. Thus she amuses the simpleton, and 
the more she amuses him the more he will burn. 

“And if he does not deign to deny his fault but says, in order 
to make her angry, that he really has another sweetheart, he should 
be careful that she does not fall into a rage. No matter what ap- 
pearance she may make of it, if he takes another sweetheart, his 
greedy promiscuity should never bother her as much as a button. 
She should give him to believe, so that he won’t stop loving, that 
she wants to get another friend and that she does so only to get 
rid of the one whom she wants to estrange, for it is quite right 
that she separate from him. And she should say: 

“ ‘You have misbehaved very much with me, and I must avenge 
myself for this wrong. Since you have tricked me, I will deal 
you a similar trick.’ 

“Then, if he loves her at all, he will be in a worse situation 
than he ever was, and he will not know how to act. No man has 
the ability to carry a great love in his breast if he is not afraid of 
being tricked. 

“Then let the chambermaid rush back, make a face of terror, 
and say: ‘Unfortunate creatures, we are dead. My lord, or I don’t 
know what man, has entered our court.’ Then the lady must run 
and interrupt all business at hand. But she should hide the young 
man under the roof, in the stable, or in a closet until she may call 
him back when she returns there. Perhaps, out of fear and despair, 
the man who desires her return would then want to be elsewhere. 

“Then if it is another friend with whom the lady has fixed a 
time — and she was not very wise to do so, since the first will not 
endure her stupidity at all, even though she may keep him in 
mind — she can lead him into some room. He may then do his 











244 The Overthrow of Treason 

will, but he will be unable to stay. As a result he will be very 
aggrieved and angry, for the lady can say to him, ‘There’s no 
hope of your staying, since my lord is within, and four of my 
first cousins. So help me God and Saint Germain, some other time 
when you can come, I will do whatever you want. But you will 
have to wait that long. Now I must go back, for they are waiting 
for me.’ But she should put him out thus, since from that time 
on she can suspect him of nothing. 

“Then the lady should return, since she may not keep the other 
one waiting too long in his discomfort or he will be very displeased. 
Then she may give him his ease again when it is all right for him 
to come forth from his prison and go to lie in her arms, within 
her bed, making sure that he does not lie there without fear. She 
should say and give him to understand that she is too foolish and 
bold, and even though she may be safer than those who follow 
their own desires, dancing through fields and vineyards, she should 
swear by her father’s soul that she is paying too much for his love 
when she takes such a chance. For delight taken in security is less 
pleasant and has less value. 

“And when they are to come together, let her take care that 
he never unites with her, however he may hold her in repose, if 
she sees daylight, unless she half-closes the windows so that the 
place may be in shadow 3 then, if she has a blemish or spot on her 
skin, he will never know of it. Let her take care that he see no 
filth on her or he would set off on his way immediately and flee 
with his tail in the air; then she would be ashamed and grieved. 

“And when they set about their labor, each of them should 
work so carefully and so exactly that the pleasure must come to- 
gether for the one person and the other before they leave off the 
task; and between them, they should wait for each other so that 
they can direct their desires toward their good. One should not 
leave the other behind; they should not stop navigating until they 
come together into port. Then their pleasure will be complete. 

“And if she has no pleasure whatever, she should pretend that 
she has a great deal; she must simulate all the signs that she knows 
to be appropriate to pleasure so that he will think that she is taking 
with gratitude what she doesn’t think worth a chestnut. 

“And if, in order that they may be safer, he gets the lady to 


' The Old Woman’s Intercession 245 

come to his own dwelling, then she must have the intention, the 
day that she is to undertake the trip, of making herself delay a 
little so that he may desire her very much before he takes her at 
his own pleasure. The longer the games of love are delayed, the 
pleasanter they are by reason of the delay; and those who enjoy 
them at their will are less desirous of them. 

“When she comes to the house where she will be held so dear, 
then she should swear and give her lover to understand that she 
is all shivering and trembling in apprehension of her jealous hus- 
band, and that she is terribly afraid of being vilified or beaten 
when she goes back again. But, however distracted she acts and 
whether she tells the truth or lies, let him take her securely in 
fear, fearfully in security, and let them play their games out in 
their privacy. 

“And if she has not the leisure to go to his dwelling to speak with 
him, nor dares receive him at her own because her jealous husband 
keeps her shut up so much, then, if she can, she should get her 
husband drunk if she knows no better way to set herself free. 
And if she cannot make him drunk on wine, she can take a pound 
of herbs more or less, which, at no danger to herself, she can get 
him to eat or drink. Then he will sleep so deeply that while he is 
sleeping he will leave her free for whatever she wants, for he 
will be unable to deflect her from anything. 

“If she has a staff of servants, she can send one here and another 
there, or deceive them with trifling gifts and receive her lover with 
their help; or she can make them all drunk as well if she wants 
to keep them out of the secret. 

“Or, if she pleases, she may say to the jealous husband, ‘Sir, 

I don’t know what disease, what fever or gout or boil, has seized 
and is firing my whole body. I have to go to the stews, even though 
we have two tubs here at home; a bath without a sweat would be 
worth nothing, and so I must go out to sweat myself.’ 

“When the wretch has thought, perhaps he will give her per- 
mission, even though he makes a nasty face. But she should take 
her chambermaid along, or some neighbor of hers who knows all 
about her affair and will, perhaps, have her own lover about whom 
the lady will know at the same time. Then off she will go to the 
bathhouse, but by no chance will she ever seek out a bath or tub; 



1435 1 

1 43 5 7 


246 The Overthrow of Treason 

she will go only to lie with her lover, unless they should bathe 
together because it seems good to them. He can wait for her there 
if he knows that she is to come that way. 

14381 “No man can keep watch over a woman if she does not watch 
over herself. If it were Argus who guarded her and looked at 
her with his hundred eyes, of which one half watched while the 
other half slept, his watchkeeping would be worth nothing. (To 
revenge Io, whom Argus had changed into a cow and stripped 
of her human form, Jupiter had his head cut off. Mercury cut it 
off and thus revenged her against Juno.) Argus’s watch would be 
worth nothing in this case; the man who guards such an object is 
a fool. 

14395 “But she should take care never to be so stupid, for anything 
that anyone, clerical or lay, may tell her, as to believe at all that 
enchantment, sorcery, or incantation, that Balenus and his science, 
or that magic or necromancy can move a man by compulsion to 
love her or to hate someone else. Medea could never hold Jason 
with any enchantment, any more than Circe could keep Ulysses 
from fleeing, no matter what fate she could create. 

14409 “A woman must be careful, no matter how much she claims a 
man as her lover, not to give him a gift that is worth very much. 
She may indeed give a pillow, a towel, a kerchief, or a purse, as 
long as they are not too expensive, a needle-case, a lace, a belt 
with metalwork that is worth little, a fine little knife, or a ball of 
thread of the kind that nuns usually make. 

14420 (“He who frequents nuns is a fool 3 it is better to love women 
of the world, for one does not get blamed as much, and they can 
follow their desires better. They know how to feed their husbands 
and families with words. Moreover, even though either kind of 
woman is costly, the nuns are much more expensive.) 

14429 “But a man who would indeed be wise should suspect all gifts 
from a woman, for truly, women’s gifts are nothing but deceptive 
traps 3 and a woman with any trace of generosity sins against her 
nature. We should leave generosity to men, for when we women 
are generous, it is a great misfortune, a great vice. Devils have 
made us thus stupid. But it doesn’t matter to me 3 there is scarcely 
one that is accustomed to giving gifts. 

“Fair son, you can very well use such gifts as I have told you 
about before to amuse these simpletons, as long as you do so 

1 444 1 

The Old Woman's Intercession 247 

to deceive them. Keep whatever people give you and let it remind 
you of the end toward which all youth is directed, if everyone can 
live that long: it is old age. It does not stop; it approaches us every 
day. Do not be considered a fool when you have arrived there. 
Be so furnished with possessions that no one will make fun of you 
for being old; for acquisitions that are not kept are not worth a 
grain of mustard. 

“Alas! I have not done so. Now, through my own wretched act, 
I am a poor woman. I abandoned to men I loved better the large 
gifts that were given me by those who abandoned themselves to 
me. They gave to me, and I gave away; I have kept back nothing. 
Giving has reduced me to indigence. I did not remember old age, 
that has put me in such distress. I never thought of poverty. I let 
time go by just as it came, taking no care to spend moderately. 

By my soul, if I had been wise, I would have been a very 
rich lady, for I was acquainted with very great people when I was 
already a coy darling, and I certainly was held in considerable 
value by them, but when I got something of value from one of 
them, then, by the faith that I owe God or Saint Thibaut, I would 
give it all to a rascal who brought me great shame but pleased me 
more. I called all the others lover, but it was he alone that I loved. 
Understand, he didn’t value me at one pea, and in fact told me so. 
He was bad— I never saw anyone worse— and he never ceased 
despising me. This scoundrel, who didn’t love me at all, would call 
me a common whore. A woman has very poor judgment, and I 
was truly a woman. I never loved a man who loved me, but, do 
you know, if that scoundrel had laid open my shoulder or broken 
my head, I would have thanked him for it. He wouldn’t have 
known how to beat me so much that I would not have had him 
throw himself upon me, for he knew very well how to make his 
peace, however much he had done against me. He would never 
have treated me so badly, beaten me or dragged me or wounded 
my face or bruised it black, that he would not have begged my 
favor before he moved from the place. He would never have said 
so many shameful things to me that he would not have counseled 
peace to me and then made me happy in bed, so that we had peace 
and concord again. Thus he had me caught in his snare, for this 
false, treacherous thief was a very hard rider in bed. I couldn’t 
live without him; I wanted to follow him always. If he had fled, 


1 447 1 





248 The Overthrow of Treason 

I would certainly have gone as far as London in England to seek 
him, so much did he please me and make me happy. He put me 
to shame and I him, for he led a life of great gaiety with the 
lovely gifts that he had received from me. He put none of them 
into saving, but played everything at dice in the taverns. He never 
learned any other trade, and there was no need then for him to 
do so, for I gave him a great deal to spend, and I certainly had 
it for the taking. Everybody was my source of income, while he 
spent it willingly and always on ribaldry; he burned everything 
in his lechery. He had his mouth stretched so wide that he did 
not want to hear anything good. Living never pleased him except 
when it was passed in idleness and pleasure. In the end I saw him 
in a bad situation as a result, when gifts were lacking for us. He 
became poor and begged his bread, while I had nothing worth 
two carding combs and had never married a lord. Then, as I have 
told you, I came through these woods, scratching my temples. May 
this situation of mine be an example to you, fair sweet son; re- 
member it. Act so wisely that it may be better with you because of 
my instruction. For when your rose is withered and white hairs 
assail you, gifts will certainly fail.” 

Thus preached the Old Woman. Fair Welcoming, who had not 
spoken a word, listened very willingly to everything. He feared 
the Old Woman less than he had ever done before, and indeed he 
was beginning to recognize that, if it were not for Jealousy and her 
gatekeepers, in whom she trusted so much, at least the three that 
remained to her, who always ran about the castle in a complete 
frenzy to defend it, the castle would have been easy to capture. 
But it would never be taken, he thought, no matter how much 
attention the attackers gave to it. None of the porters made an un- 
happy face over Foul Mouth, who was dead, for he was not loved 
at all in that circle. He had always defamed and betrayed them all 
to Jealousy, so that he was so vehemently hated that no one who 
dwelt therein would have given so much as a bunch of garlic to 
free him, no one except Jealousy, perhaps. She liked his babble 
very much; she willingly lent him her ear, and was also won- 
drously sad when the thief made some scandalous accusation. He 
hid nothing from her that he could remember as long as ill was to 
come of it. But his very great fault was to tell more than he 
knew, and by his exaggerations he added to the things that he 

The Old Woman's Intercession 249 

heard. He always increased news that was neither good nor fair, 
and he made little of good news. Thus, like one who was accus- 
tomed to envious slander in his whole life, he titillated Jealousy. 
The others never sang any Mass for him, so glad they were when 
they saw him dead. It seemed to them that they had lost nothing, 
for when they had collected together, they thought that they 
could guard the enclosure so that there would be no fear of its 
being taken if five hundred thousand men attacked it. 

“Certainly,” they said, “we are not very powerful, if, without 
this thief, we cannot guard everything that we have. May this 
false traitor, this miserable wretch, have his soul stinking in hell- 
fire, that can burn and destroy it! He never did anything in here 
except harm.” 

The three porters went around saying these things, but what- 
ever they were planning, they were powerfully weakened. 

When the Old Woman had told her story in this way, Fair Wel- 
coming took up the conversation. He began after a long time and 
spoke little; like one who was well taught, he said: 

“My lady, when you teach me your art with such good grace, 
I thank you kindly for it; but when you spoke to me of love, the 
sweet sickness with so much bitterness, it was a subject strange 
to me. I know nothing of it but what I have heard, and I shall 
never seek to know more. And again you spoke to me about pos- 
sessions and how I should amass many of them; but what I have is 
enough for me. I want to put all my attention on having a lovely, 
gentle manner. I have no belief in magic, the devil’s art, whether 
it is true or false. 

“But about the young man of whom you spoke to me, in whom 
there is so much goodness and merit that in him all graces mingle — 
if he has these graces, let them dwell with him. I do not hope 
for them to be mine, but leave them to him. In any case, I cer- 
tainly do not hate him, nor do I love him so purely, even though 
I have accepted his chaplet, that I call him my friend except in the 
ordinary way, as every man says to every woman: ‘You are wel- 
come, my friend.’ And she replies, ‘My friend, and God bless 
you.’ Nor do I love him or honor him except well and honorably. 
But since he has given me this gift and I have received it, it should 
please me and suit me for him to come to see me if he can and has 
any desire to do so. He will never find me slow to receive him 










i47° 2 


250 Hhe Overthrow of Treason 

willingly, but it must be while Jealousy is out of town. She hates 
him and reviles him so that I am afraid, however it may happen, 
that if she were now away she might come upon us, for after she 
has packed up all her gear to go out and we have leave to stay, 
then often, when she has imagined something on her road, she 
returns in mid-journey and storms at us and upsets us all. She is so 
cruel and harsh toward me that if she comes by chance and can 
find him in here, even though she may never be able to prove 
anything further, I will, if you remember her cruelty, be com- 
pletely dismembered alive.” 

The Old Woman assured him very much. “Let me do the worry- 
ing,” she said. “There is no question of finding him here. Even 
if Jealousy were here, I know so many hiding places that, so help 
me God and Saint Remi, she would sooner find an ant’s egg in a 
straw pile than she would find him after I have hidden him, so 
well would I know how to hide him.” 

“Then,” said Fair Welcoming, “I would indeed like him to 
come, provided that he conducts himself discreetly so that he avoids 
anything offensive.” 

“By God’s flesh, you speak wisely, my son, like a worthy and 
thoughtful person of knowledge and judgment.” 

Then their conversation was over, and they departed from that 
place. Fair Welcoming went into his room, and the Old Woman 
also got up to do her tasks in the houses. When the place, time, and 
occasion came that the Old Woman could select to find Fair Wel- 
coming alone, so that one might indeed speak to him at leisure, 
she began to descend the steps until she came forth from the 
tower. She never stopped trotting right from the exit up to the 
place where I was staying, and came to me tired and panting to 
tell me about the affair. “Do I come,” she said, “in time for the 
gloves, if I tell you good news, completely fresh and new?” 

“For the gloves!” I said. “Lady, I tell you without joking that 
instead you will have a coat and dress, a headdress of gray feathers, 
and shoes of your design if you tell me something of value.” 
Then the old lady told me that I might go up to the castle, 
where someone waited for me. She did not want to leave immedi- 
ately but taught me the way to enter: 

“You will enter by the rear door,” she said, “and, the better 
to conceal the matter, I will go to open it for you. The passage 

The Old Woman's Intercession 251 

is very well hidden. This door, you know, has not been open for 
more than two and a half months.” 

“Lady,” I said, “by Saint Remi, even though it costs ten or 
twenty pounds a yard” — for I remembered very well that Friend 
had told me that I should make good promises, even if I could 
not fulfill them — “you will have good cloth, either blue or green, 
if I can find the door open.” 

The Old Woman left me immediately. I went back in the other 
direction, by the rear door where she had told me to go, praying 
God to direct me to the right harbor. Without saying a word, 
I came to the rear door that the Old Woman had unlocked for 
me and still kept half closed. When I had entered, I closed it, 
so that we were in greater safety ; I was especially so because I 
knew that Foul Mouth was dead. I was never so happy over a 
death. There I saw his gate broken. I had no sooner passed it than 
I found Love inside the gate, along with his host, who brought 
me comfort. God! What an advantage the vassals who overcame 
that gate had given me! May they have the benediction of God 
and Saint Benedict! There was the traitor False Seeming, son of 
Fraud and false minister of Hypocrisy, his mother, who is so bitter 
toward the virtues ; there too was lady Constrained Abstinence, 
pregnant by False Seeming and ready to give birth to Antichrist, 
as I find it written in a book. Without fail, these were they who 
overcame the gate. Therefore I pray for them, for whatever that is 
worth. My lords, he who wants to be a traitor should make False 
Seeming his master and take Constrained Abstinence. He may 
then practice duplicity and pretend simplicity. 

When I saw this gate, of which I told you, thus taken and 
overcome, and found the armed host within, ready to attack, let 
no man ask if I was full of joy when I saw with my own eyes. 
Then I thought very deeply on how I might have Sweet Looks, 
and there he was, God keep him, for Love sent him for my comfort. 
I had lost him for a very long time. When I saw him, I was so 
full of joy that I almost fainted; and Sweet Looks was also very 
glad of my coming when he saw me. He directed me straight- 
way to Fair Welcoming, who jumped up and came toward me like 
a courteous and well-brought-up person; his mother had taught 
him. Bowing, I saluted him on my coming, and he also saluted me 
in return and thanked me for his chaplet. 





1 4795 


252 The Overthrow of Treason 

“Sir,” I said, “don’t trouble yourself ; you should not thank 
me, but I should thank you a hundred thousand times for doing 
me so much honor as to take it. You know that if you pleased 
there is nothing of mine that is not yours to do with as you wish, 
no matter who were to laugh or grieve over it. I wish to put myself 
at your disposal in every way, to honor and serve you. If you want 
to order me to do anything, or send for me without any order, or 
if I may know about it in any other way, I shall put my body, my 
possessions, indeed my soul as well, without any remorse of con- 
science, into its execution. And in order that you may be more 
certain, I beg you to try it ; if I fail, may I never enjoy my body 
or anything that I possess.” 

“Thank you, fair sir,” he said. “In turn, I want to tell you that 
if I have anything that may please you, I certainly want you to 
have its comfort. Take it even without permission, as if you were 
I, for your well-being and your honor.” 

“Sir,” I said, “I thank you a hundred thousand times for your 
favor. When I can thus take anything of yours, then I seek never 
to wait any longer, for here you have ready the thing on which 
my heart will make a greater feast than on all the gold of 



Then I advanced to stretch out my hands toward the rose that 
I longed for so greatly, in order to fulfill my whole desire. I be- 
lieved very much in the speeches that we had made, so sweet and 
agreeable, and in our pleasant acquaintance, full of fair faces that 
were very easily made, but what happened was quite different. A 
great deal of what a fool plans is left undone. I found a very cruel 
defense, for as I started in that direction, Resistance, the villain — 
may the wicked wolf strangle him — forbade me to take a step. He 
was hidden in a corner, behind, where he spied on us and set 
down our entire conversation, word for word, in writing. Without 
waiting he cried out at me. 

“Fly, vassal,” he said. “Fly, fly, fly. You give me too much 
trouble. The accursed devils, demented with fury, have led you 
back; they participate in this fine ceremony where everyone takes 
all he can before he goes away. May no holy man or woman ever 
come to it! Vassal, vassal, may God save me, for just a little I 
would break your head!” 

Then Fear jumped up, and Shame ran in, when they heard the 
peasant saying “Fly, fly, fly”; but he still did not keep quiet, but 
called upon the devils and turned back the saints. Ah! God! 
What a cruel band he had! They ran out in a rage and all three 
together took me and pushed my hands back. 

“Never,” they said, “will you have less or more than you have 
had. You understand poorly what Fair Welcoming offered you 
when he allowed you to speak to him. He gladly offered you his 
goods, but only in an honest way. You had no concern over 
honesty, but took the offer simply, not in the sense that one ought 
to take it, for it must be understood without saying that when a 
worthy person offers his service, it is only in a good way, and he 
who makes the promise so understands it. Now tell us, Dan 
Trickster, when you heard what he said, why didn’t you take it in 





254 The Overthrow of Treason 

the right sense? Either it was your rude understanding that en- 
couraged you to take it so basely, or you have learned to play the 
fool with skill. He never offered you the rose, because to do so is 
not honest, and you should neither ask for it nor have it without 
asking. And when you offered things to him, how did you intend 
this offer? Was it to come here and trick him in order to rob him 
of his rose? In fact, you do betray and trick him when you want 

14878 to serve him in this way, by being a bosom enemy. There is 
nothing put in a book that can bring so much harm or trouble. 
If you should burst with grief, we should not believe it. You 
must vacate this enclosure. Devils have made you come back 
here, for you should remember very well that you were chased 
out of here once before. Now get out; get what you want some- 
where else. You know, the old lady who sought passage for such a 
dolt was not very wise, but she didn’t know your intention or the 
treason that you planned, for she would never have sought it for 
you if she had known about such disloyalty. Furthermore, Fair 
Welcoming, who is quite defenseless, was certainly deceived when 
he received you in his enclosure. He thought to do you a service, 
and you intended only trouble for him. My faith! He gains as 
much as one who transports a dog in a boat. As soon as he arrives, 
the dog barks at him. Now seek your prey elsewhere, and get out 
of this enclosure. You may ascend our steps in good health and 
with our thanks, or you will never count a single one, for someone 
could come here quickly who, if he got you in his power or held 
you, would make you miscount them if he had to break your head. 

14909 “Sir Fool, Sir Presumption, empty of all loyalty, how has Fair 
Welcoming done you any wrong? For what sin, what misdeed 
have you taken so soon to hating him? You want to betray him 
here, and now you offer him every thing that you have? Is it 
because he received you, because he deceived us and himself for 
you and straightway offered you his dogs and his birds? He should 
know that he acted foolishly; and in view of what he has done 
here, both now and at other times, so keep us God and Saint Foy, 
he will be put forever in a prison stronger than any captive ever 
entered. He will be riveted in such strong bands that you will 
never, any day that you live, see him going along a way. He has 
troubled and disturbed us too much. It was an unhappy hour when 
you saw so much of him. We are all deceived by him!” 


i/tttack and ‘Tycpulsc 255 

Then they seized him and beat him so much that they made 
him flee into the tower. There, after many shameful injuries, 
they locked him with three pairs of locks under three pairs of 
keys, without putting him behind bars or in a cell. They troubled 
him no further at this time, but only because they were in a hurry; 
but they promised to do worse when they returned. 

They did not keep their promise. All three of them returned 
to me where I was waiting outside, sad, sorrowing, overcome, and 
in tears. Again they attacked me and tormented me. Now may 
God grant that they may yet repent! My heart almost melted 
away from sorrow over the great outrage that they had done me. 
I wanted to give myself up, but they did not want to take me 
alive. I tried very hard to make peace with them and I would 
have wished very much to be put in prison with Fair Welcoming. 

“Resistance,” I said, “fair noble fellow, open of heart and valiant 
of body, more compassionate than I can say, and you, O beautiful 
Shame and Fear, wise, free, and noble girls, well regulated in 
deeds and words and born of Reason’s race, allow me to become 
your servant with the agreement that I may stay within the prison 
with Fair Welcoming, without ever being ransomed, and I will 
promise to serve you loyally if you will put me in prison, where I 
will serve you and do your pleasure. In faith, if I were now a 
thief, traitor, or robber, or accused of some murder and wanted 
to be imprisoned and made such a request, I do not think that 
I would fail. In fact, by God, one could put me there in any coun- 
try without any request; for that crime they should have me in 
their power, and should cut me up completely and never let me 
escape if they could catch me. For God’s sake, I ask of you prison 
with him forever, and if it can ever be found, either without proof 
or in the very act, that I fail to serve well, may I go out of the 
prison forever. Now there is no man who does not fail; but if I 
commit any fault, have me pack up my belongings and clear me 
out of your bonds, for if I ever anger you, I want to be punished 
for doing so. You yourselves may be the judges, as long as no one 
except you may judge me. From head to toe, I submit myself 
entirely to you as long as you are only three and as long as Fair 
Welcoming may be with you, for I accept him as the fourth. We 
can recount the deed to him and if you cannot agree to allow me, 
let him bring you to an agreement; then you will hold to his de- 






1 5061 

256 The Overthrow of Treason 

cision. For I would not want to move away from here, even if I 
were beaten or killed.” 

Resistance cried out immediately: “Ah! God! What a request 
we have here! To put you in prison with him when you have such 
a playful heart and he such a well-disposed one would be to do 
nothing other than with the most exquisite love to put Renard 
with the hens. We know full well that whatever service you do 
you are only working out how to do us shame and villainy, and 
we have no care for such service. You are certainly still void of 
sense when you think that you can judge the case. Judge! For the 
beautiful King of heaven ! How can a person already captured and 
judged ever be a judge or take any arbitration upon himself? Fair 
Welcoming has been captured and judged and you judge him to 
have so much dignity that he may be arbiter or judge! The deluge 
will come before he ever comes out of our tower and he will be 
destroyed when we return, for he has well deserved destruction 
because, outside of anything else, he did the service of offering you 
his things. We lose all the roses through him. Every dolt wants 
to gather them when he sees himself well received; but if one kept 
Fair Welcoming well encaged, no one would do them any harm, 
and no man living would carry off as much of the rose as the 
wind does if there were not the sort that misbehaves to the extent 
of using brute force. Indeed he might misbehave so much that 
he would be banished or hanged.” 

“Certainly,” I said, “anyone who destroys a man who has done 
nothing and who imprisons him without reason does a great wrong j 
and when you hold captive so worthy a person as Fair Welcom- 
ing, one so honest that he is the praise of everybody, and hold 
him on no other charge than that he turned a friendly face toward 
me and valued my acquaintance, you act very badly toward him. 
By reason he should be out of prison, if it pleased you; therefore 
I pray you that he may come forth and have done with his punish- 
ment. You have already done him too much wrong; take care 
that he may never be captured.” 

“My faith,” they said, “this fool is trying to trick us; in fact 
he is going around now feeding us his truffles when he wants Fair 
Welcoming released from prison and when he tries to trick us 
with his sermons. He asks for what cannot be. Fair Welcoming 
will never put even his head outside of the door or window.” 

<• Attack and T^epulse 257 

Then they all attacked me again. Each one tried to thrust me 
outside, but they didn’t trouble me at all because I wanted to 
crucify myself. I began to cry, not too loudly, for mercy from 
them, and in a low voice I called on those who were to come to my 
aid to attack. When the sentinels who were to guard the host saw 
me and heard me being so badly treated, they cried out, “Now, 
barons, upon them, upon them! If we do not appear straightway, 
armed to help this pure lover, he is lost, God help us. The gate- 
keepers will kill him or put him in chains, beat him with sticks 
or crucify him. He is crying out before their attack in a clear voice, 
and calling for mercy from them in so low a voice that you can 
scarcely hear the cry; for he cried and called so low that you 
would think, to hear him, either that he was hoarse from yelling 
or that they were squeezing his throat to strangle him or kill him. 
They have already shut his voice so that he cannot or dares not 
cry out. We don’t know what they hope to do with him, but it is 
something very much against him. He will be dead if he doesn’t 
get help immediately. Fair Welcoming, who used to comfort 
him, has fled away very quickly, and now our lover must have 
some other comfort until he can recover Fair Welcoming. From 
now on we must labor with arms.” 

The porters would have killed me without fail if the men of 
the host had not come. These barons leaped to their weapons 
when they heard, knew, and saw that I had lost my joy and solace. 
Without moving from the spot, I, who was captured in the net 
where Love binds others, watched the tournament that began very 
fiercely. As soon as the porters knew that they had so large an 
army against them, all three of them allied themselves and swore 
and promised that they would help each other and that never, on 
any day of their life, in any extremity, would they abandon one 
another. I didn’t stop watching their appearance and bearing, and 
I was very sad over their alliance. When those of the host saw that 
the porters had made such an alliance, they got together and joined 
forces. They had no desire to part company, but instead swore 
that they would go so far as to lie dead on the spot, be overcome 
and captured, or gain the victory in the fight, so ardent were they 
to fight and beat down the porters 5 pride. 

From now on we will come to the battle, and you will hear 
how each one fights. Listen now, loyal lovers, so that the God 




1 5 1 59 


1 5 1 95 

258 The Overthrow of Treason 

of Love may help you and grant that you may enjoy your loves! 
Here in this wood you may hear, if you listen to me, the dogs 
barking in chase of the rabbit that you are after and the ferret 
that must surely make him leap into the nets. Remember what I 
am saying here. You will have an adequate art of love, and if 
you have any difficulty, I will clarify what confuses you when 
you have heard me explain the dream. Then, if someone creates 
opposition, you will know how to reply about love, when you have 
heard me gloss the text. And then, by this text, you will under- 
stand whatever I have written before and whatever I intend to 
write. But before you hear me say anything more, I want to move 
aside a little to defend myself against wicked people, not so much 
to delay you as to excuse myself to them. 

Therefore I beg you, amorous lords, by the delicious games 
of love, if you find here any speeches that are too bawdy or silly 
and that might make slanderous critics who go around speaking 
ill of us rise up over things that I have said or will say, that you 
will courteously oppose them. Then when you have reproved, 
prevented, or opposed these speeches, if what I say is of such a 
nature that I may justly ask pardon for them, I beg you to pardon 
me and to reply to them through me that my subject matter de- 
manded these things; it draws me toward such things by its own 
properties, and therefore I have such speeches. This procedure is 
just and right according to the authority of Sallust, who tells us 
in a true judgment: 

“Although there may not be the same glory for him who per- 
forms a certain deed and for him who wants to set down the deed 
accurately in a book, the better to describe the truth, still it is not 
an easy thing to set down deeds in writing; it requires great 
strength of technique, for if anyone writes something without 
wishing to rob you of its truth, then what he says must resemble 
the deed. Words that are neighbors with things must be cousins 
to their deeds.” Therefore I have to speak thus if I want to pro- 
ceed in the right way. 

And I pray all you worthy women, whether girls or ladies, in 
love or without lovers, that if you ever find set down here any 
words that seem critical and abusive of feminine ways, then please 
do not blame me for them nor abuse my writing, which is all for 
our instruction. I certainly never said anything, nor ever had the 

c Attack and Repulse 259 

wish to say anything, either through drunkenness or anger, in hate 
or envy, against any woman alive. For no one should despise a 
woman unless he has the worst heart among all the wicked ones. 
But we have set these things down in writing so that we can gain 
knowledge, and that you too may do so by yourselves. It is good 
to know everything. Besides, honorable ladies, if it seems to you 
that I tell fables, don’t consider me a liar, but apply to the authors 
who in their works have written the things that I have said and will 
say. I shall never lie in anything as long as the worthy men who 
wrote the old books did not lie. And in my judgment they all 
agreed when they told about feminine ways; they were neither 
foolish nor drunk when they set down these customs in their 
books. They knew about the ways of women, for they had tested 
them all and had found such ways in women by testing at various 
times. For this reason you should the sooner absolve me; I do 
nothing but retell just what the poets have written between them, 
when each of them treats the subject matter that he is pleased 
to undertake, except that my treatment, which costs you little, 
may add a few speeches. For, as the text witnesses, the whole 
intent of the poets is profit and delight. 

And if people grumble about me and get upset and angry 
because they feel that I reprove them in the chapter where I 
record False Seeming’s words, and therefore get together because 
they want to blame or punish me because what I say gives them 
pain, I certainly protest that it was never my intention to speak 
against any living man who follows holy religion or who spends 
his life in good works, no matter what robe he covers himself 
with. Instead, I take my bow and bend it, sinner that I may be, 
and let fly my arrow to wound at random. To wound, yes; but to 
recognize, in the world or in the cloister, the unlawful people, the 
cursed ones whom Jesus calls hypocrites. Many of them, to seem 
more honest, give up eating the flesh of animals at all times, 
and not for penance; they thus perform their act of abstinence, as 
we do during Lent, but only to eat men alive, through venemous 
intent, with the teeth of detraction. I never aimed to hit any other 
target; it is there that I wanted, and want, to place my arrows. 
Therefore, I fire on them in the pack, and if it happens that any 
man is pleased to put himself in the way of an arrow and receive 
a shot, if he so deceives himself with his pride that he gets shot, 




260 The Overthrow of Treason 

and then complains because I have wounded him, it is not my 
fault and never will be, even if he should perish as a result, for I 
can strike no one who wants to protect himself as long as he knows 
how to see where he stands. Even he who feels himself wounded 
by my arrow may take care to be a hypocrite no longer and will be 
rid of his wound. Nevertheless, in my opinion, no matter who com- 
plains, no matter how important he pretends to be, and no matter 
how he disputes me, I have never said anything that may not be 
found in writing, either proved by experience or at least capable 
of being proved by reason, no matter whom it may displease. And 
if I make any utterance that Holy Church may consider foolish, 
I am ready at her wish to change it if I am capable of making 
the change. 

15303 Very humbly, Openness first encountered Resistance, who was 
very proud and courageous, cruel and wild in appearance. He held 
a mace in his hand, and brandished it so proudly and aimed such 
dangerous blows all around him that no shield could have held 
together without being smashed to bits unless it had been a won- 
drous one 3 he aimed blows so dangerous that anyone who stood 
up against him within range of the mace would have surrendered 
vanquished or, unless he was the sort that was very skillful at 
arms, been destroyed and obliterated. The ugly villain, repulsive 
to me, had taken his mace from the wood of Refusal. His targe 
was made from brutality, bordered with outrageous treatment. 

1 5321 Openness was also well armed. She could hardly be scratched 
because she knew how to cover herself well. She threw herself 
against Resistance to get the gate open. In her hand she carried 
a strong lance, fair and polished, that she had brought from the 
forest of Cajolery. Nothing of the sort grows in the forest of Biere. 
Its tip was made of sweet prayer. She also held, with great de- 
votion, a shield of every supplication, no less strong, bordered with 
handclasps, promises, agreements, oaths, and engagements, all 
colored very daintily. You would have said certainly that Gen- 
erosity had given it to her, painted and shaped it, so much did 
it seem to be of her workmanship. 

15342 Then Openness, covering herself well with her shield, bran- 
dished the haft of her lance and threw it toward the villain. He 
did not have a cowardly heart, but seemed rather to be Renouart 
de la Pole, if he had lived again. His shield would have been com- 

c 'Attack and T^epulse 261 

pletely shattered, but it was so immeasurably strong that it feared 
no arms, and he protected himself from the blow so that his 
belly was not laid open. The point of the lance broke, and as a 
result Resistance heeded the blow less. Furthermore, the cruel and 
raging villain was well furnished with arms. He took the lance 
and destroyed it, piece by piece, with his mace, and then aimed a 
great fierce blow. 

“Who is going to keep me from hitting you,” he asked, “you 
filthy slut of a harlot? How have you dared to be so forward as 
to attack a man of prowess?” 

Then he struck the shield of the beautiful, courteous, and worthy 
lady, made her jump a good fathom with pain, and struck her to 
her knees. He cursed and beat her vilely, and I think that at that 
stroke she would have died if she had had a shield of wood. 

“I believed you before,” he said, “you filthy lady, you false 
slut, but it will certainly never happen again. Your lying betrayed 
me, and because of you I allowed the kiss to give comfort to the 
wanton young man. He found me foolishly agreeable; devils made 
me do so. By God’s flesh, it was a bad day for you when you 
came here to attack our castle, for here you must lose your life.” 

When the fair one could go no further, she begged his mercy 
for God’s sake, so that he would not destroy her. The scoundrel 
shook his head, became furious, and swore by the saints that he 
would kill her without delay. 

Pity held him in great contempt and hastened to run toward 
him and rescue her companion. Pity, who is in accord with every- 
thing good, held, instead of a sword, a misericord that was flow- 
ing all over with weeping and tears. If my author doesn’t lie, this 
weapon would pierce a rock of diamond — if indeed it were so 
directed — because it had a very sharp point. Her shield was made 
of comfort and bordered with lamentation, full of sighs and com- 
plaints. Pity, weeping many tears, pierced the scoundrel on all sides 
while he defended himself like a leopard, but when she had 
bathed the dirty, unkempt scoundrel in tears he had to soften. 
It seemed to him that he was to drown in a river, completely 
dazed. He had never, by deeds or words, been struck so hard. 
His force failed him completely; weak and drained, he staggered 
and faltered and wanted to flee. Shame called out to him: 

“Resistance, you have turned out a scoundrel. If you are found 



1 537 1 







262 'The Overthrow of Treason 

faithless, and Fair Welcoming is able to escape, you will get us 
all caught} then he will straightway give away the rose that we 
are keeping enclosed here. And I can tell you this much without 
fail, that if he gives the rose to gluttons, then you may know that 
as a result it will be blemished or pale, or flabby or withered. And 
so I can certainly claim again that such a wind could blow in here, 
if he found the entry open, that we would suffer harm and loss. Or 
the wind could move the seed or shower another seed there to 
burden the rose. God grant that such a seed may not fall here! 
It would be a great misfortune for us, for, before it could fall from 
the rose, our flower could immediately have died from it, without 
any help. Or if it escaped death and the wind struck such blows 
that the seeds intermingled, then the flowers would suffer; for the 
mingling of the seeds would weigh down the flower until, in its 
descent, it might tear away some of the leaves. The loss of the 
leaves — may God never wish such a thing — would reveal the 
green bud beneath; and then people would say everywhere that 
gluttonous knaves had held it in their clutches. We would have 
the hatred of Jealousy, who would know of it and sorrow so deeply 
from her knowledge that we would be given over to death. Devils 
must have made you raving drunk.” 

Resistance cried, “Help, help!” and immediately Shame was 
there. She came at Pity and threatened her, and Pity was very 
much afraid of her threat. 

“You have lived too long,” said Shame. “I will break that 
shield of yours, and today you shall lie on the ground; it was a 
bad day for you when you took up this war.” 

Shame carried a large sword, beautiful, well made, and well 
tempered, one that she had forged in fear from the concern over 
being found out. She had a strong targe, named Fear-of-a-Bad- 
Reputation, for she had made it of that sort of wood. On the 
borders there was many a tongue portrayed. She struck Pity and 
made her fall back; she almost finished her off. Immediately De- 
light came up, a handsome bachelor, exceptionally strong, and 
made an attack on Shame. He had a sword of pleasant life, a shield 
of ease — something I had none of whatever — that was bordered 
with solace and joy. He struck at Shame, but she covered herself 
so judiciously with her shield that the blow never troubled her. 
Shame in turn went out seeking him and struck him with such 

JLttack and T^epulse 263 

force that she broke her shield over his head and beat him down 
until he was stretched out on the ground. She would have smashed 
him right up to his teeth, but God brought up a bachelor called 
Skillful Concealment. 

Skillful Concealment was a very good warrior, a wise and wily 
earthly lord. In his hand he held a quiet sword, one like a tongue 
cut out. He brandished it without making any noise, so that one 
did not hear it a fathom off. No matter how strongly it was bran- 
dished, it gave off neither sound nor echo. His shield was made of a 
hidden place where no chicken ever laid an egg; it was bordered 
with safe outings and secret returns. He raised his sword and 
struck Shame such a blow that he almost killed her. Shame was 
completely dazed from it. 

“Shame,” he said, “never will Jealousy, that sorrowful captive, 
know it any day of her life. I would assure you of that, give you 
my hand on it, and swear a hundred oaths. Isn’t that a great 
assurance? Now that Foul Mouth is killed, you are captured ; do 
not move.” 

Shame did not know what to say. Fear, usually a coward, jumped 
up, full of anger. Shame looked at her cousin, who, when she felt 
that Shame was in such danger, put her hand to her sword, one 
that was terribly cutting. Its name was Suspicion-of-Ostentation, 
for it had been made of that material. When she had drawn it 
from its scabbard, it was clearer than any beryl. Fear had a shield 
made of the fear of danger, bordered with labor and suffering, 
and she exerted herself strongly to cut down Skillful Conceal- 
ment. In order to avenge her cousin, she went to strike him such 
a blow on his shield that he could not save himself. Completely 
dazed, he faltered and then called on Boldness, who jumped in, 
for if Fear had got in a second blow, she would have worked great 
harm. Skillful Concealment would have been dead beyond recall 
if she had given him the second. 

Boldness was brave, hardy, and expert in deeds and in words. 
He had a good, well-burnished sword, made of the steel of fury. 
His shield had a great reputation ; its name was Contempt-of- 
Death, and it was bordered with wild abandon to all dangers. He 
came at Fear and aimed to strike her down with a great and 
wicked blow. She let the blow come and covered herself, for 
she was skillful enough in the moves of that kind of fencing, and 




1 5535 

1 5 556 

1 5593 

264 The Overthrow of Treason 

was well protected from his blow. Then she struck him so heavy 
a blow that she beat him down until he was lying on the ground 
and unprotected by any shield. When Boldness felt himself struck 
low, he begged with joined hands and pleaded with her for the 
mercy of God not to kill him, and Fear said that she would do as 
he wished. 

Security said, “What will become of us? By God, Fear, you 
will die here. Do the worst that you can. You have the habit 
of the shakes, and you are a hundred times more cowardly than 
a hare. Now that you have lost your cowardice, the devils have 
made you so bold that you have set upon Boldness, who so loves 
tourneying and knows so much about it, if he thought of it, that 
no one ever knew more than he. Except in this instance, you have 
never jousted since you walked upon the earth; otherwise you 
have known nothing of the moves in fighting. Elsewhere, in all 
other combats, you have fled or given up, you, who just now de- 
fended yourself here. You fled with Cacus when you saw Hercules 
come running, with his club at his neck. You were quite completely 
distracted then, and you put wings on his heels, wings such as he 
had never had before. Cacus had stolen Hercules’s cattle and 
brought them together into his cave, a very deep one, by leading 
them backward by the tail, so that no trace of them was found. 
There your force was tested, and there you showed without doubt 
that you were worth nothing in battle; and since you have not 
frequented battle, you know little or nothing of it. So you must 
not put up resistance but flee or give up those arms; otherwise you 
must pay dearly, since you have dared match yourself with him.” 

Security had a hard sword made of flight from every care, and 
a shield of peace, unquestionably good, bordered all around with 
agreement. She struck at Fear, thinking to kill her; Fear took 
care to cover herself and interposed her shield, which met the 
blow safely so that she was not hurt in any way. The blow 
glanced and fell to the ground, and Fear returned her such a 
blow on her shield that she was quite stunned, very close, in fact, 
to being killed. So strongly was she struck that her sword and 
shield flew from her hands. Do you know what Security did 
then? To give an example to the others, she seized Fear around 
the temples; Fear did the same to her, and thus they held each 
other. All the others intervened. One seized another and joined 

zAttack and T^epulse 265 

battle. I never saw such coupling in battle. The fight grew stronger, 
and the struggle was so fierce that there was never such an ex- 
change of blows in any tournament. They came from here and they 
came from there; everyone called up his followers, and all ran up 
pell mell. I never saw snow or hail fall thicker than the blows 
flew. They all tore and smashed each other. You never saw such 
a fight with so many people thus engaged. 

However — and I will not lie to you about it — the forces that 
were attacking the castle were constantly getting the worst of it. 
The God of Love was very much afraid that all of his people would 
be killed. He sent word by Openness and Sweet Looks for his 
mother to come and not to hold back for any reason. Meanwhile 
he took a truce of between ten and twelve whole days, or more 
or less; it could never be told for certain. Indeed he could have 
had truces forever if he had continued to ask for them, no matter 
how many wings were broken or who should violate it. But if he 
had known that he had the upper hand, he would never have 
taken a truce. And if the gatekeepers had not thought that the 
others would not break through them after they were left to 
themselves, they would never, perhaps, have given a truce in 
good faith, but instead would have become angry, no matter what 
appearance they showed. Nor would a truce have been made if 
Venus had interfered. However, it was necessary to make it in 
any case. One has to withdraw a little, either by truce or by some 
retreat, every time that one struggles in such a way that one can- 
not win, until one can more easily subdue his foe. 

The messengers left the army and traveled wisely until they 
came to Cytherea, where they were held in great honor. Cytherea 
is a mountain, within a wood on a plain, so high that no arbalest, 
no matter how strong or ready to fire, would fire an arrow or bolt 
up to it. There Venus, the inspiration of ladies, made her principal 
manor, and there she wished mainly to dwell. But if I described 
the entire situation I would perhaps bore you too much. More- 
over, I could wear myself out, and therefore I want to pass over 
it briefly. 

Venus had gone down into the wood to go hunting in a valley, 
and the fair Adonis, her sweet friend with the lively heart, was 
with her. He was somewhat of a child, and was interested in hunt- 
ing in the woods. A child he was, young and still growing, but 




266 The Overthrow of Treason 

very handsome and pleasing. Midday had passed a long time 
before, and each was tired from the hunt. They were enjoying 
the shade on the grass under a poplar, near a fishpond. Their 
dogs, tired out and panting from running, drank at the brook of 
the fishpond. They had leaned their bows, arrows, and quivers 
near them, and they diverted themselves pleasantly, listening to 
the birds in the branches all around them. After their sport, Venus 
held him embraced in her lap, and as she kissed him she taught 
him the way to hunt in the woods, as she was accustomed to prac- 
tice it. 

15699 “Friend,” she said, “when your pack of dogs is ready and you 
go seeking the beast, if you find a beast that flees, chase it when 
it turns to flee; run after it boldly. But never let your horn be 
sounded against those that fiercely set their bodies to defend them- 
selves. Against the bold be a lazy coward; for no bravery is safe 
against those in whom brave hearts are fixed. When a brave man 
fights another bold man, he wages a perilous battle. 

1 571 3 “Harts and hinds, he- and she-goats, reindeer and fallow deer, 
rabbits and hares — these are the ones I want you to chase ; in such 
a hunt you will find comfort. But I forbid bears, wolves, lions, and 
wild boars. On my interdiction, do not hunt them. Such beasts 
defend themselves; they kill the dogs and cut them up, and very 
often make the hunters themselves fail of their designs. They have 
killed and wounded many of them. I will never have joy of you, 
but will be heavily burdened, if you do otherwise.” 

15727 Thus Venus lectured him, and in her scolding she begged him 
very much to remember her advice whenever he went hunting. 
Adonis, who cared little for what his sweetheart was saying, 
whether it was false or true, agreed to everything in order to 
have peace, since he cared nothing for her scolding. Whatever 
she did was worth little. Let her lecture as much as usual; if she 
goes away, she will never see him again. He did not believe her, 
and afterward he died; Venus never came to his help, since she was 
not present. Then the sorrowing girl wept for him, for afterward 
he hunted a wild boar that he thought to capture and strangle; 
but he neither captured nor tore him to pieces, for the boar de- 
fended himself like a fierce, proud beast. He shook his head at 
Adonis, sank his tusks into his groin, twisted his snout, and struck 
Adonis dead. 

c Attack and Repulse 267 

Fair lords, whatever happens to you, remember this example. 
You who do not believe your sweethearts, know that you commit 
great folly; you should believe them all, for their sayings are as 
true as history. If they swear, “We are all yours,” believe what 
they say as if it were the -paternoster . Never go back on your belief 
in them. If Reason comes, do not believe her at all. Even if she 
brought a crucifix, believe her not one bit more than I do. If 
Adonis had believed his sweetheart, his life would have grown 
much longer. 

Venus and Adonis played with one another and diverted them- 
selves when they pleased, and after their diversion returned to 
Cytherea. The messengers, who had not delayed, told Venus point 
by point, before she took off her clothes, everything of whatever 
they had to say. 

“By my faith,” said Venus then, “it was a bad day for Jealousy 
when she held a castle or even a small house against my son. If I 
don’t set fire to the gatekeepers and their followers, or if they 
don’t give up the keys to the tower, I shouldn’t value myself or 
my bow or my torch as much as a block of wood.” 

Then she had her household called. She ordered them to harness 
her chariot, since she did not want to walk through the mud. The 
chariot was beautiful; it was a four-wheeled one, starred with gold 
and pearls. Instead of horses, there were six doves hitched in the 
shafts; she kept them in her beautiful dovecote. Everything was 
made ready, and Venus, who makes war on Chastity, mounted 
into her chariot. None of the birds flew out of place; they beat 
their wings and flew off. The air in front of them broke and parted, 
and they came to the army. Having arrived, Venus got down from 
her chariot immediately, and they ran toward her with great joy, 
her son first. In his haste, he had already broken the truce before 
it had expired; he never kept the code of an oath or a promise. 

They set out to fight fiercely. One side attacked, the others de- 
fended themselves. The attackers set up catapults against the castle 
and shot large pebbles of weighty supplications in order to break 
down the walls, while the gatekeepers provided the walls with 
defenses made of strong wattles full of denials, interlaced with 
flexible wands that they had with great brutality cut from Resist- 
ance’s hedge. The attackers fired at them barbed arrows feathered 
with large promises, either of services or gifts, made in order to 





I 58OI 

268 T*he Overthrow of Treason 

get quick rewards, for no wood will ever go into them that is not 
made entirely of promises $ the arrows were tipped firmly with 
points made of oaths and assurances. The defenders were not slow 
to protect themselves, but covered themselves with shields that 
were strong and hard, neither too heavy nor too light, of wood 
like that of the wattles that Resistance gathered in his hedges, so 
that it was no good shooting at them. 

15826 As the matter was going thus, Love drew toward his mother, 
reported his entire situation to her, and begged her to help him. 
15830 “May I perish in a miserable death,” she said, “that may take 
me straightway, if I ever let Chastity dwell in any woman alive, 
and much good may Jealousy get from her efforts! We are often 
put to great trouble on her account. Fair son, swear likewise that 
all the men will leap along by your paths.” 

15838 “Certainly, my lady,” he replied, “willingly. Not one of them 
will be relieved of doing so. Never, at least in truth, will men be 
called worthy unless they love or have loved. It is a great sorrow 
when there live men who avoid the diversions of love, provided 
that they can maintain them. May they come to a bad end! I hate 
them so much that if I could I would destroy them all. I com- 
plain of them and I always shall, nor shall I dissimulate my com- 
plaint. I shall complain like one who wants to harm them in every 
case as much as I can until I am so revenged that an end is put to 
their pride or they are all condemned. It was an evil hour in which 
they were ever born of Adam when they thought to trouble me 
thus. May their hearts break in their bodies for wishing to destroy 
my diversions. Certainly anyone who indeed wanted to beat me, 
let alone break in my head with four pikes, could not do worse 
to me, and I am not mortal. But I now feel such anger that if I 
could have been mortal I would have died of my suffering. If my 
games go begging, I have lost whatever I have that is worth any- 
thing except my body, my clothing, my chaplet, and my arms and 
armor. If these men don’t have the power, at least they should 
have enough chagrin to bend their hearts to sorrow if they have to 
abandon my games. Where can one seek a life better than being in 
the arms of his sweetheart?” 

Then Venus and Love made their oath to the army and, to keep 
it more firmly, they pledged, instead of relics, their quivers and 
arrows, their bows, darts, and torches, and they said, “We do not 


c 'Attack and Repulse 269 

ask for better relics for this purpose, no matter how much some 
could please us. If we forswear these, we shall never again be 

They swore by no other thing, and the barons believed them as 15887 
much as if they had sworn by the Trinity, because they swore 
the truth. 


I59 22 




When they had made this oath so that all could hear it, Nature, 
who thinks on the things that are enclosed beneath the heavens, 
was entered within her forge, where she would put all her atten- 
tion on forging individual creatures to continue the species. For 
individuals make the species live so that Death cannot catch up with 
them, no matter how much she runs after them. Nature goes so 
close to Death that when Death with her mace kills those among 
the individual creatures that she finds due her (there are some 
things corruptible that do not fear death at all, but that perish 
away in any case, that use themselves up in time and decay, and 
nourish other things) — when Death thinks to exterminate them 
all, she cannot bind them all down together. When she seizes one 
here, another escapes there; when she has killed the father, the 
son remains, or the daughter or mother, for they flee before Death 
when they see the one already dead. Then in turn these must die, 
no matter how well they can run, and no medicine or religious vow 
is worth anything. Then up jump nieces and nephews to flee away 
as fast as their feet can carry them, one of them to the carol, another 
to the church, another to a school, others to their businesses, to 
crafts that they have learned, or to the delights of wine, food, and 
bed. Others, to flee more quickly before Death forces them, mount 
great chargers with all their gilded stirrups. One trusts his life to 
wood and flees by sea in a boat; he guides his ship, oars, and 
sails by the sight of the stars. Another, humbling himself with a 
vow, assumes a cloak of hypocrisy with which he covers his thoughts 
as he flees until his thoughts appear in his outward deeds. 

All who live flee in this way; all would willingly escape death. 
Death, who has colored her face black, runs after them until she 
catches up with them. This is a very cruel hunt. Everyone flees and 
Death hunts them down, for ten or twenty, thirty or forty, fifty, 
sixty, or seventy years, indeed eighty, ninety, or a hundred; then 
she goes along destroying whatever she is holding. If they can 

Nature’s Confession 271 

pass along beyond this age, she runs after them without getting 
tired until she holds them in her bonds, in spite of all the physicians. 
And we have not seen any of the physicians themselves escape from 
her, not Hippocrates or Galen, no matter how good physicians they 
were. Rhases, Constantine, and Avicenna have left her their skins. 
And again, nothing can rescue those who cannot run so fast. Thus 
Death, never satisfied, greedily swallows up individuals. By land 
and sea she follows them until in the end she buries them all. But 
since she cannot keep them all together, she cannot finish by de- 
stroying the species entirely, so well can the individuals flee from 
her. For if only one remained, the form common to the entire 
species would live on. And in the case of the phoenix it seems that 
there cannot be two of them together. 

There is always a single phoenix that lives, up until its end, for 
five hundred years. At the last it makes a large, full fire of spices 
where it sits down and is burned. Thus it brings about the destruc- 
tion of its body; but because it keeps its form, another phoenix 
returns from its ashes, no matter how it was burned. It may possibly 
be the very same phoenix that Nature thus brings back to life. 
Nature is so fecund for her species that she would lose her entire 
being if she did not cause the phoenix to be reborn. Thus, if Death 
devours the phoenix, the phoenix still remains alive; if she had 
devoured a thousand, the phoenix would remain. It is the phoenix 
in its ideal common form that Nature reshapes into individuals; 
and this common form would be entirely lost if the next phoenix 
were not left alive. All things under the circle of the moon have 
this very same mode of being, so that if one of them can remain, 
its species so lives in it that Death can never catch up with it. 

But when Nature, sweet and compassionate, sees that envious 
Death and Corruption come together to put to destruction what- 
ever they find within her forge, she continues always to hammer 
and forge and always to renew the individuals by means of new 
generation. When she can bring no other counsel to her work, she 
cuts copies in such letters that she gives them true forms in coins 
of different monies. From these, Art makes her models, but she 
does not make her forms as true. However, with very attentive 
care, she kneels before Nature and like a truant beggar, poor in 
knowledge and force, she begs and requests and asks of her. She 
struggles to follow her so that Nature may wish to teach her how 



272 T*he Overthrow of Treason 

with her ability she may properly subsume all creatures in her 
figures. She also watches how Nature works, for she would like 
very much to perform such a work, and she imitates her like a 
monkey. But her sense is so bare and feeble that she cannot make 

16035 living things, no matter how newborn they seem. For Art, no 
matter how hard she tries, with great study and great effort, to 
make anything whatever, no matter what shapes they have — 
whether she paints, dyes, forges, or shapes armed knights in battle, 
on handsome chargers all covered with arms, and worked in blue, 
yellow, or green or variegated with other colors if you want to mix 
them j or beautiful birds in green groves; or the fishes of all waters 5 
all the wild beasts that feed in their woods j all plants, all the 
flowers that little boys and girls go to gather in the spring woods 
when they see them in bloom and leaf j tame birds and domestic 
animals j balls, dances, and farandoles with beautiful and elegantly 
dressed ladies, well portrayed and well represented, either in 
metal, wood, wax, or any other material, in pictures or on walls, 
with the ladies holding handsome bachelors, also well represented 
and portrayed, in their nets — even so, Art, for all her representa- 
tions and skillful touches, will never make them go by themselves, 

16065 love, move, feel, and talk. She may learn so much about alchemy 
that she may dye all the metals in color — for she could kill herself 
before she could transmute the species, even if she didn’t go to the 
extent of taking them back to their prime matter — -but she may 
work as long as she lives and never catch up with Nature. And if 
she did want to exert herself until she knew how to take them 
back to it, she would still perhaps lack the knowledge of how, when 
she made her elixir, to arrive at that suitable proportion of ele- 
ments that should result in the form, a proportion that distinguishes 
their substances among themselves by their individual differences, 
just as, if one knows how to arrive at a result, it appears in the 

16083 Nevertheless, it is a notable thing that alchemy is a true art. 
Whoever worked wisely in it would find great miracles; for, how- 
ever it goes with species, the individuals, at least, when they under- 
go intelligent operations, are changeable into many forms. They 
can so alter their appearances by various transformations that this 
change puts them into entirely different species and robs them of 
the original species. Do we not see how those who are masters of 

Stature's Q onfession 273 

glass-blowing create from fern, by means of a simple process of 
purification, both ash and glass? And neither is the glass fern, nor 
does the fern remain glass. Again, when lightning and thunder 
come, one can see stones fall from the clouds, stones which did 
not ascend as stones. Those who understand can know the cause 
which brings such matter into the strange species. These are trans- 
muted species, those whose individuals are alienated from them in 
both substance and shape, through Art in the case of the fern, ash, 
and glass, through Nature in the case of the stones. 

One could do the same thing with metals if one knew how to 
carry the operation through to its conclusion, to take away the 
impurities from the impure metals and put them into pure forms 
according to their affinities, one resembling another. They are all of 
one matter, however Nature may attire them, for all are born, in 
various ways beneath their earthly appearances, from sulfur and 
from quicksilver. Thus the book avows. He then who knew how to 
make himself subtle enough to prepare the spirits so that they had 
the force to enter into bodies and not fly out again once they had 
entered, as long as they found the bodies cleansed and the sulfur, 
for white or red color, not burning — such a man, when he knew 
how to work in this way, would have his will with metals. For 
those who are masters of alchemy cause pure gold to be born from 
pure silver. They add weight and color to it with things that cost 
scarcely anything. They also make precious stones, shining and 
desirable, from pure gold; and they deprive other metals of their 
forms, to change them into pure silver, by means of white liquids, 
penetrating and pure. But those who work with sophistry would 
never do this. They work just as they will live 3 they will never 
catch up with Nature. 

Nature, who is highly ingenious, claimed that, however atten- 
tive she was to the works that she loved so much, she was tired 
and sorrowful, and she was weeping so profoundly that no heart 
with any love or pity at all could look at her and hold back from 
weeping; for she felt such sorrow in her heart over a deed of which 
she repented that she wanted to abandon her works and cease all 
her thought, provided only that she might know that she had 
permission from her master. Her heart impelled and pressed her 
to go and make this request of him. 

I would willingly describe her to you, but my sense is not equal 




274 The Overthrow of Treason 

to it. My sense! What have I said? That’s the least one could say. 
No human sense would show her, either vocally or in writing. Even 
if it were Plato or Aristotle, Algus, Euclid, or Ptolemy, who now 
have such great reputations for having been good writers, their 
wits would be so useless, if they dared undertake the task, that they 
could not do so. Nor could Pygmalion fashion her ; Parrasius could 
work at the job in vain 5 indeed Apelles, whom I call a very good 
painter, could never describe her beauty, no matter how long he 
had to live 3 and neither Miro nor Polycletus could ever attain 
the skill to do so. Even Zeuxis could not achieve such a form 
with his beautiful painting ; it was he who, in order to make an 
image in the temple, used as models five of the most beautiful 
girls that one could seek and find in the whole land. They re- 
mained standing quite naked before him so that he could use each 
one as a model if he found any defect in another, either in body 

16196 or in limb. Tully recalls the story to us in this way in the book 
of his Rhetoric , a very authentic body of knowledge. But Nature 
is of such great beauty that Zeuxis could do nothing in this con- 
nection, no matter how well he could represent or color his likeness. 
Zeuxis! Not all the masters that Nature ever caused to be born 
could do so, for supposing that they grasped the whole of her 
beauty and that they all wanted to waste their time in such a repre- 
sentation, they could sooner wear out their hands than represent 
such very great beauty. No one except God could do so. Therefore 
I would willingly at least have tried if I had been able; indeed 
I would have described her to you if I could have and had known 
how; I have even wasted my time over it until, like a presumptu- 
ous fool, I have used up all of my sense, a hundred times more 
than you suspect. I made too great a presumption when I ever set 
my intent on achieving so very high a task. I found that the great 
beauty that I value so highly was so noble and of such great worth 
that I could break my heart before I might embrace it with my 
thought, no matter how much work I might devote to it, or before 
I even dared say a word about it, no matter how much I thought. 

16229 I am tired out from thinking, and therefore I will now say no more 
about it since, when I have thought on her more, she is so beautiful 
that I know no more to say of her. For when God, the immeasur- 
ably beautiful, put beauty into Nature, he made of her a fountain 

Stature's Confession 275 

always flowing and always full, from which all beauty proceeds ; 
but no one knows any bottom or bound to it. It is therefore right 
that I make no tale either about her body or her face, so pleasing 
and beautiful that no lily at the beginning of May, no rose on its 
twig nor snow on a branch is so red nor so white. Thus should I 
pay homage when I dare compare her to anything, since her beauty 
and worth cannot be understood by men. 

When Nature heard the oath of Venus and Love, there was a 
very great lightening of the deep sorrow that she suffered. She 
considered herself deceived and said: “Alas! What have I done? 
I do not repent of the things that have happened to me since the 
time when this fair world began, except for one thing alone, in 
which I misbehaved most wickedly and for which I consider myself 
a stupid fool. And when I look at my stupidity, it is very right that 
I repent of it. Wretched fool! Sorrowful wretch! A hundred thou- 
sand times wretched! Where will faith now be found? Have I used 
my labors well? Am I indeed out of my mind? I always thought 
to serve my friends, to deserve their gratitude, and I have given all 
my labor to the advancement of my enemies. My good nature 
has ruined me.” 

Then she addressed her priest, who was celebrating a service 
in her chapel. It was not a new Mass, for he had always done this 
service from the time when he was a priest of the church. In a loud 
voice, instead of any other Mass, before the goddess Nature, the 
priest, who was in full agreement, recited in audience the repre- 
sentative shapes of all corruptible things that he had written in his 
book, just as Nature had given them to him. 

“Genius,” she said, “fair priest, the god and master of places, 
who set all things at work according to their properties and who 
achieve your task well just as is appropriate to each place, I want to 
confess to you of a folly that I have committed and from which 
I am not withdrawn, but repentance constrains me very much.” 

“My lady, queen of the world, toward whom every worldly 
thing bows, if there is anything that troubles you so much that as 
a result you go around repentant, or which it even pleases you to 
tell, whatever the subject may be, of joy or sorrow, you can indeed 
confess to me entirely at your leisure whatever you want; and at 
your pleasure,” said Genius, “I wish to give to it all the advice that 





276 T he Overthrow of Treason 

I can. And if there is anything to keep silent, I shall certainly keep 
your affair secret. And if you need absolution I should not deprive 
you of it. But cease your weeping.” 

16312 “Certainly,” she said, “it is no wonder, fair Genius, if I weep.” 

16314 “In any case, lady,” he said, “I advise you to wish to abandon 

this weeping, if you indeed want to confess, and to be very attentive 
to the subject that you have undertaken to tell me. I believe that 
the misdeed is a great one, for I well know that a noble heart is not 
moved for a small thing. He who dares trouble you is a great fool. 

16323 “But it is also true, without fail, that a woman is easily inflamed 
with wrath. Virgil himself bears witness — and he knew a great deal 
about their difficulties — that no woman was ever so stable that she 
might not be varied and changeable. And thus she remains a very 
irritable animal. Solomon says that there was never a head more 
cruel than the head of a serpent and nothing more wrathful than 
a woman, and that nothing, he says, has so much malice. Briefly, 
there is so much vice in woman that no one can recount her perverse 
ways in rhyme or in verse. Titus Livius, who knew well what the 
habits and ways of women are, says that women are so easily de- 
ceived, so silly and of such pliable natures that with their ways en- 
treaties are not worth as much as blandishments. Again, Scripture 
says elsewhere that the basis of all feminine vice is avarice. 

16347 “Whoever tells his secrets to his wife makes of her his mistress. 
No man born of woman, unless he is drunk or demented, should 
reveal anything to a woman that should be kept hidden, if he 
doesn’t want to hear it from someone else. No matter how loyal 
or good-natured she is, it would be better to flee the country than 
tell a woman something that should be kept silent. He should 
never do any secret deed if he sees a woman come, for even if 
there is bodily danger, you may be sure that she will tell it, no 
matter how long she may wait. Even if no one asks her anything 
about it, she will certainly tell it without any unusual coaxing; 

16366 for nothing would she keep silent. To her thinking she would be 
dead if the secret did not jump out of her mouth, even if she is 
in danger or reproached. And if the one who told her is such a per- 
son that, after she knows, dares strike her or beat her just once, 
not three or four times, then no sooner than he touches her will 
she reproach him with his secret, and she will do so right out in 
the open. He who confides in a woman loses her. And do you know 

Stature's Confession 277 

what the wretch who confides in her does to himself? He binds his 
hands and cuts his throat ; for if, just one single time he ever dares 
grouch at her or scold her or get angry, he puts his life in such 
danger — if he deserved death for his deed — that she will have 
him hanged by the neck, if the judges can catch him, or secretly 
murdered by friends. Such is the unfortunate harbor at which he 
has arrived. 

“But when the fool goes to bed at night and lies near his wife 16389 
in his bed, he neither can nor dare be at rest. Perhaps he has done 
something or wishes to commit some murder or some other unlaw- 
ful act as a result of which he is afraid for his life if he is caught; 
so he turns and complains and sighs. His wife, who sees very well 
that he is uneasy, draws him toward her, caresses him, embraces him 
and kisses him, and nestles herself between his breasts. 

“ ‘Sir, 5 she says, ‘what news? Who makes you sigh thus and 16402 
jump and turn? Here we two are now alone by ourselves, the 
only people in this whole world, you the first and I the second, 
who should love each other best with hearts that are loyal, pure, 
and without bitterness. I well remember that I closed our chamber 
door with my own hand; the walls are a half-fathom thick, and I 
value them more for that reason; the rafters too are so high that 
we shall be quite safe in that direction. And we are far from the 
windows and the place is therefore much safer as far as revealing 
our secrets is concerned; furthermore no man living has the power 
to open them, any more than the wind can, without breaking them. 

In short this place has no ear-hole whatever, and no one can hear 
your voice, except for me alone. Therefore I beg you piteously by 
our love that you have enough confidence in me to tell me what 
it is.’ 

“‘Lady,’ he says, ‘may God be my witness, not for anything 16429 
would I tell it, for it is not a thing to tell.’ 

“ ‘Aha! ’ she says, ‘my fair sweet lord, do you suspect something 16432 
of me, your faithful wife? When we came together in marriage, 

Jesus Christ, whom we have not found mean or stingy of His 
grace, made one flesh of us two, and when we have only one flesh 
by the right of common law, there can be only a single heart on the 
left side of one flesh. Our hearts are then both one; you have mine 
and I yours. You can then have nothing in yours that mine should 
not know. Therefore I pray you to tell it to me both as a reward 

278 *£he Overthrow of Treason 

and because I deserve it, for I shall never have joy in my heart 
until I know what it is. And if you don’t want to tell it to me, I 
see well that you are deceiving me, and I know with what kind of 
heart you love me, you who call me sweet lover, sweet sister, and 
sweet companion. For whom are you peeling this chestnut? Cer- 
tainly if you don’t reveal it to me, it appears indeed that you are 
betraying me, for I have confided myself to you so much since 
you married me that I have told you everything that I have en- 
16463 closed within my heart. And for you I left father and mother, 
uncle, nephew, sister and brother, and all my friends and relatives, 
as is very clear. I have certainly made a very bad exchange when 
I find you so distant toward me. I love you more than anyone 
living, and it’s all not worth a shallot to me. You think that I 
would misbehave toward you to the extent of telling your secrets, 
but that is a thing that could not happen. By Jesus Christ, the 
celestial king, who better than I should protect you? May it please 
you at least to consider, if you know anything about loyalty, the 
pledge that you have of my body. Doesn’t this pledge suffice 
you? Do you want a better hostage? Then I am worse than all 
16483 others if you dare not tell me your secrets. I see all these other 
women who are sufficiently mistresses of their houses so that their 
husbands confide in them enough to tell them all their secrets. 
They all take counsel with their wives when they lie awake to- 
gether in their beds, and they confess themselves privately so that 
there is nothing left to them to tell. Truth to tell, they even do 
so more often than they do to the priest. I know it well from them 
themselves, for many times I have heard them; they have revealed 
to me everything, whatever they have heard and seen and even 
all that they think. In this way they purge and empty themselves. 
However, I am not the same sort. None of them is comparable 
to me, for I am no loose, quarrelsome gossip, and at least, however 
it may be with my soul and God, I am an honest woman in my 
body. You have never heard it said that I have committed any 
adultery unless the fools who told you such a tale invented it 
maliciously. Have you tested me well? Have you found me false? 
16511 ‘“Next, fair sir, consider how you keep your faith with me. 

Certainly you made a bad mistake when you put a ring on my 
finger and pledged your faith to me. I don’t know how you dared 
do so. If you dare not confide in me, who made you marry me? 


Stature's Confession 279 

“ ‘Therefore I beg that your faith may be safe with me at least 
this time, and I assure you loyally, and promise and pledge and 
swear, by blessed Saint Peter, that this will be a thing buried under 
stone. Now certainly I would be a big fool if from my mouth came 
any speech that would shame or do harm to you. I would be 
shaming my own family, which I have never defamed on any 
occasion, and myself first of all. There is a customary saying that is 
true without fail: “He who is fool enough to cut off his nose dis- 
honors his face forever.” Tell me, and may God help you, what 
troubles your heart. If not, you will have me dead . 5 

“Then she uncovers her chest and head, kisses him again and 
again and between the feints at kissing she weeps many tears over 
him. Then the unfortunate wretch tells her his great sorrow and 
shame and with his words hangs himself. When he has said it he 
repents; but once a speech has taken wing it cannot be called back. 
Then he begs her to keep quiet, for he is more uneasy than he 
had ever been before, when his wife knew nothing about it. She 
in turn tells him without fail that she will keep quiet, no matter 
what happens. But what does the wretch think he can do? He 
cannot keep his own tongue silent. Is he going to try now to re- 
strain another’s? What result does he think to arrive at? Now the 
lady sees that she has the upper hand, and she knows that at no 
time whatever will he dare get angry at her or grumble at her 
about anything. Since she has something definite to work with, 
she will make him keep mum and quiet. Perhaps she will hold to 
her agreement until they get angry with each other. She will have 
his heart in balance still more if she waits that long, but she will 
scarcely ever wait so much that it will not be a great burden to him. 

“If anyone loved men he would preach this sermon to them 
and would do well to say it in all places so that every man might 
see himself mirrored in it and be drawn back from his great danger. 
But such a man could perhaps be displeasing to the women, with 
their gossip. Truth, however, does not seek corners. 

“Fair lords, protect yourselves from women if you love your 
bodies and souls. At least never go to work so badly that you reveal 
the secrets that you keep hidden inside your hearts. Fly, fly, fly, fly, 
fly, my children; I advise you and urge you without deception or 
guile to fly from such an animal. Note these verses of Virgil, but know 
them in your heart so that they cannot be drawn out therefrom: O 




280 "The Overthrow of Treason 

child who gather flowers and fresh, clean strawberries, here lies 
the cold serpent in the grass. Fly, child, for he poisons and en- 
venoms every person that comes near. O child, seeking along the 
earth for flowers and new strawberries, the evil chilling serpent, 
who goes about here hiding himself, the malicious adder who 
covers up and conceals his venom, and hides it under the tender 
grass until he can pour it out to deceive and harm you; O child, 

6605 give thought to avoiding him. Don’t let yourself be seized if you 
want to escape death, for it is such a venomous animal in body, 
tail, and head, that if you approach it you will find yourself com- 
pletely poisoned, for it treacherously corrodes and pierces whatever 
it reaches, without remedy. No treacle may cure the burning of that 
venom. No herb or root is worth anything against it. The only 
medicine is flight. 

6617 “However, I do not say, and it was never my intent to say, that 
you should not hold women dear or that you should flee from 
them and not lie with them. Instead I recommend that you value 
them highly and improve their lot with reason. See that they are 
well clothed and well shod, and labor always to serve and honor 
them in order to continue your kind so that death does not destroy 
it. But never trust them so much that you tell them anything to 
keep quiet about. Certainly allow them to go and come, to keep 
up the household and the house if they know how to take care of 
it; or if it happens by chance that they know how to buy or sell 
they can busy themselves with such activity; or if they know any 
trade let them do it if they need to; and let them know about the 
things that are open and that don’t need to be hidden. But if you 
abandon yourself so much that you give them too much power, 
you will repent later, when you feel their malice. Even Scripture 
cries out to us that if the woman has lordship she opposes her hus- 
band when he wants to say or do anything. Take care in any case 
that the house does not go to ruin, for one shows to better ad- 
vantage when it is well kept. He who is wise takes care of his things. 

[6653 “You, too, who have your sweethearts, be good companions to 
them. It is a good thing for each of them to know enough about 
matters of mutual concern. But if you are wise and intelligent you 
will keep quiet when you hold them in your arms and hug them 
and kiss them. Stay still, still, still. Think about holding your tongue, 
for nothing can come to any conclusion when they share secrets, 

Stature's Q onfession 2 8 1 

so proud and haughty are they, with such corrosive, venomous, 
and harmful tongues. But when fools come to be held in their arms 
and hug and kiss them in the games that are so pleasing to them, 
then nothing can be hidden from them. There the secrets are 
revealed 3 there husbands reveal themselves and afterward they 
are sorry and chagrined. All of them reveal their thoughts except 
the wise men who have pondered well. 

“Malicious Dalila, through her poisonous flattery, cut off Sam- 
son’s hair with her scissors as she held him softly close, sleeping in 
her lap. As a result, this man who was so valiant, worthy, strong, 
and fierce in battle, lost all his strength when she thus sheared off 
his locks. She revealed all his secrets, which the fool, not knowing 
how to hide anything, had told her. But I don’t want to tell you 
any more examples ; one can very well suffice you for all of them. 
Even Solomon speaks of it, and because I love you I will tell 
you quickly what he says: ‘In order to flee from danger and re- 
proach, guard the gates of your mouth against her who sleeps in 
your bosom.’ Whoever hold men dear should preach this sermon 
so that they may guard against women and never confide in them. 

“Now I have not said these things on your account, for without 
contradiction you have always been loyal and steadfast. Even 
Scripture affirms that God has given you such pure sense that you 
are wise without end.” 

Thus Genius comforted her and exhorted her by any means 
that he could to abandon her sorrow entirely. For no one, he said, 
could overcome anything in sorrow and sadness ; sorrow, he said, 
is a thing that wounds and that profits nothing. When he had said 
what he wanted to, without making any longer plea, he sat down 
upon a seat placed next to his altar ; and Nature immediately 
kneeled down before the priest. However, it was undoubtedly true 
that she could not forget her sorrow ; and he, for his part, did not 
want to plead with her any longer, since he would have wasted all 
his trouble. Instead he kept quiet and listened to the lady, who, 
with great devotion and weeping many tears, made her confession. 
I bring it to you here in writing, word for word, just as she said it. 

“When that most fair God who abounds in beauty created the 
world of beauty whose fair form, pondered upon forever in eter- 
nity, He carried within His thought before it ever existed outside, 
nothing ever moved Him to do so except His own sweet-tempered 









282 T'he Overthrow of Treason 

will, broad, courteous, free of envy, the fountain of all life ^ He 
took His exemplar and whatever was necessary from His thought, 
for if He had wished to seek elsewhere, He would have found 
neither heaven nor earth nor anything with which He might help 
Himself, since nothing existed outside. He in whom there can be 
no lack made everything spring from nothing. In the beginning He 
created only a mass that was in confusion, without order or dis- 
tinction, and then divided it into parts that afterward were not 
split up. He enumerated everything by number, and He knows 
how many there are altogether. By rational measures He com- 
pleted all their shapes and made them round so that they might 
move better and contain more, as they were to be mobile and capa- 
cious. He put them into places that He saw were suitable for them; 
the light ones flew on high, the heavy went to the center, and those 
of medium weight to the middle. Thus the locations were ordered 
with true measurement, with right spacing. 

“When God Himself, through His grace, had placed His other 
creatures according to His plans, He so honored and valued me 
that He established me as chambermaid. He lets me serve there 
and will let me do so as long as it shall be His will. I ask no other 
right, but I thank Him for loving me so much that He, a great 
lord, should so value me, a very poor girl, that He has taken me 
as chambermaid in so large and beautiful a house. As chamber- 
maid! Certainly indeed as constable and vicar, positions of which 
I am not worthy except through His benign will. 

“Thus, since God has honored me so much, I keep the beautiful 
golden chain that binds the four elements, all of them bowing be- 
fore my face. And He gave me all the things that are enclosed 
within the chain and commanded me to guard them and to con- 
tinue their forms, and He wanted them all to obey me and learn 
my rules so that they might never forget them, but hold them 
and keep them always to eternity. In truth, things commonly do 
so; all give their attention to this task except one creature alone. 

“I should not complain of heaven; it turns forever without hesi- 
tation and carries with it in its polished circle all the twinkling stars, 
powerful over all precious stones. It goes along diverting the 
world; beginning its westward journey, it sets out from the east 
and does not stop turning backward, carrying all the wheels that 
ascend against it to retard its movement. But they cannot hold it 

Stature's Confession 283 

back enough that it ever, on their account, runs so slowly that it 
does not take 36,000 years to come exactly, with an entire circle 
completed, to the point where God first created it. It follows the 
extent of the path of the zodiac with the great heavenly circle, 
which turns on it as on a form. It is the heaven that runs so exactly 
that there is no error whatever in its course; and therefore those 
who found no error whatever there called it aplanos, for aflanos 
in Greek means the same as ‘a thing without error’ in French. 

This other heaven that I speak of to you here is not seen by men, 
but reason proves it thus to him who finds the demonstrations there. 

“I do not complain of the seven planets, each of them bright, 16833 
shining, and clean, throughout the whole of its course. It seems to 
men that the moon may indeed not be clean and pure, because in 
some places it shows up dark. But it is because of its double nature 
that it appears opaque and cloudy in some places, shining in one 
part and ceasing to shine in another, because it is both clear and 
opaque. Thus what makes its light fail is the fact that the clear 
part of its substance cannot reflect the rays that the sun throws out 
toward it; instead they pass on through and beyond. But the 
opaque part, which can resist the rays well and overcome its light, 
shows the light. In order to make this matter better understood, 
one can very well, instead of a gloss, give an example in a brief 
word, the better to clarify the text. 

“When rays pass through transparent glass, there is nothing 16853 
opaque, in front or behind, that may reflect them; thus transparent 
glass cannot show shapes, since the eye-beams cannot encounter 
there anything that may retain them, by which the form might 
come back to the eyes. But if one took lead, or something dense 
that does not allow rays to pass through, and placed oneself on the 
side opposite to that from which the sun’s rays come, the form 
would return immediately. Of if there were some polished object 
that could reflect light, and it were opaque of its own nature or 
through some other material, it would return an image, I know 
well. In the same way the moon, in its clear part, in which it re- 
sembles its sphere, cannot retain the rays by which light might come 
to it; instead they pass beyond. But the opaque part, which does 
not let them pass beyond, reflects them back strongly instead, and 
makes the moon have light. Therefore the moon appears light in 
parts and seems dark in parts. 

284 The Overthrow of Treason 

1 688 1 “The dark part of the moon represents to us the shape of a very 
marvelous animal, a serpent that keeps his head always bent toward 
the west and whose tail finishes toward the east. On his back he 
carries an upright tree that extends its branches toward the east 
but that in doing so turns them upside down. On this upside-down 
arrangement dwells a man, leaning on his arms, who has pointed 
both his feet and thighs toward the west, as it appears by the 
looks of them. 

16895 “These planets perform a very good function. Each of them 
works so well that none of the seven is delayed in any way. They 
turn through their twelve houses and run through all of their steps 
and remain just as they should. To perform their task, they turn 
by a motion contrary to that of the heaven and each day occupy 
the positions of the heaven that they should in order to complete 
their circles. Then they begin again without end, slowing down 
the speed of the heaven so as to give help to the elements; for 
if the heaven could run freely, nothing could live under it. 

1691 1 “The beautiful sun that gives rise to the day — for it is the cause 
of all brightness — keeps its place in the middle like a king, all 
flaming with rays, and has its house in the middle of them. It is 
not without reason that God the beautiful, the strong, the wise, 
wanted his dwelling to be there; for if it had run lower, there is 
nothing that would not have died of heat, while if it had run 
higher, the cold would have condemned everything. There the 
sun divides its brightness among the stars and the moon and makes 
them appear so beautiful that in the evening, when Night sits 
down to her table, she makes of them her candles so as to be less 
frightful before her husband Acheron, whose heart is afflicted with 
chagrin for this reason. He would have preferred to be with a 
Night who was completely black, without any light, as they had 
been together before, when they first had known one another. It 
was then, in their wild abandon, that Night conceived the three 

16939 Furies, the cruel, fierce girls who are justices in hell. Nevertheless 
Night thinks, when she looks at herself in her pantry, her store- 
room, or her cellar, that she would be too hideous and pale and 
would have too dark a face if she didn’t have the joyous bright- 
ness of the heavenly bodies, reflecting the rays of light, shining 
through the darkened air as they turn in their spheres just as God 
the father established them. There they create among themselves 

Stature's Q onfession 285 

their harmonies, the causes of melodies and of differences of tone 
which we put together in concord in all sorts of song. There is 
nothing that does not sing according to their music. 

“They also, through their influences, change the accidents and 
substances of things that are beneath the moon. Through their 
common diversity clear elements become dark, and they also make 
the dark ones clear. They make cold and hot, dry and moist, enter 
into every body as into a container, to hold their parts together. 
Although the elements may struggle against each other, the 
heavenly bodies go about binding them together. Thus they make 
peace among the four enemies when they put them together in 
suitable proportions, with dispositions according to reason, in order 
to form in the best shape all things that I form. And if it happens 
that they may be worse, that is because of the defect in their 

“But no matter how great care one may know how to take, 
the peace among the elements will never be so good that heat 
may not suck up humidity and, without stopping, destroy and eat 
it up from day to day, until the death that is due them by my 
just establishment may come, if death does not come to them in 
some other way. It may be hastened for some other reason before 
the humidity is destroyed ; for although no one, with any medi- 
cine that one may find, or anything with which one may know 
how to anoint oneself, can prolong the life of the body, I know 
well that each one can easily shorten it. Many, indeed, shorten 
their lives, before their moisture fails, by getting drowned or 
hanged or by undertaking some dangerous adventure in which 
they get burned or buried before they can flee. Or they get them- 
selves destroyed through some accident brought about foolishly 
by their own deeds, or through their private enemies, who have 
such false and wicked hearts that they have put many guiltless 
people to death by the sword or by poison. Or they fall into sick- 
nesses through bad management of their lives — through sleeping 
too much or staying up too late, resting or working too much, or 
getting too fat or too thin; for one can sin in all these respects, 
in fasting too long, in having too many delights or wanting too 
much discomfort, in enjoying oneself too much or sorrowing to 
excess, in drinking or eating too much, or in changing one’s char- 
acteristics too much. These situations show up particularly when 








286 T’he Overthrow of Treason 

people suddenly get too hot or feel too cold; then, later, they re- 
pent of their excesses. Or they change their habits, and many people 
have been killed when they changed their habits suddenly; many 
have given themselves a lot of trouble and many have killed 
themselves, for sudden changes of this sort are very harmful to 
Nature, and as a result they make me waste all my pains to lead 
them to a natural death. And although they commit great wrongs 
in opposing me by bringing about such deaths, they still give me a 
great burden in any case when they stop short on their road like 
surrendered captives, conquered by the misfortune of death; and 
they could easily protect themselves from death if they wanted 
to hold back from the excesses and follies which shorten their lives 
before they have attained and taken the good that I have prepared 
for them. 

“Empedocles took poor care of himself. He looked in his books 
so long and loved philosophy so much, full, perhaps, of melan- 
choly, that he never feared death but threw himself alive into the 
fire. With feet joined he jumped into Etna in order to show that 
those who want to fear death are indeed of weak mind. Therefore 
he wanted to throw himself in voluntarily. He valued neither 
honey nor sugar but chose his own sepulchre there among the 
boiling sulfur. 

“Origen, who cut off his testicles, also valued me lightly when 
he cut them with his own hands so that he could serve the religious 
ladies with devotion and so that there would be no suspicion that 
he might ever lie with them. 

“Men say that the fates had decreed such deaths for them 
and had set up such destinies from the times when they were 
conceived. And since they took their births under such constella- 
tions that by strict necessity, without any other possibility, they 
have no power to avoid such a death, however much it should 
grieve them, they must accept it. But I know very well that it is 
quite true that however the heavens work to give them those 
natural ways that incline them to do those things that drew them 
to this end, obedient to the material that goes about to bend their 
hearts in this way, even so, they can, through teaching, through 
clean, pure nourishment, by following good company that is en- 
dowed with sense and virtues, or through certain remedies, pro- 
vided that they are good and pure, and also through goodness of 

Stature's Q onfession 287 

understanding, they can, I say, obtain another result, provided 
that, like intelligent people, they have bridled their natural ways. 

For when a man or woman wants to turn his spirit away from its 
own nature, against his good and against right, Reason can turn 
him back, provided that he believes in her alone. Then the situa- 
tion will go in another way. It can indeed be in another way, what- 
ever the heavenly bodies do, and they certainly have very great 
power as long as they don’t go against Reason. But they have no 
power against Reason, for every wise man knows that they are not 
the masters of Reason, nor did they bring her to birth. 

“But to solve the question of how predestination and the divine 17101 
foreknowledge, full of all providence, can exist with free will is a 
difficult thing to explain to lay people. Anyone who wanted to 
undertake the task would find it hard to make it understood, even 
if he had solved the arguments brought up in opposition. But it is 
true, whatever it may seem to the lay, that predestination and 
free will accord very well together. Otherwise those who lead good 
lives should never have any recompense for them, while those who 
take trouble to sin should never have any punishment, if it were 
true that everything occurred by necessity. He who wanted to do 17119 
good could not wish otherwise, and he who wanted to do evil 
could not withdraw from it. Whether he wished to or not, he 
would do it, since it would be his destiny. In fact, anyone could 
say, in arguing the question, that God is not deceived by the deeds 
that He has foreknown, and that they undoubtedly will happen 
just as they exist in His knowledge. But He knows when they 
will happen, how, and what result they will work toward, for if 
it could be otherwise than that God knew it beforehand, He would 
not be all-powerful, all-good, or all-knowing, nor would He be 
sovereign, the fair, sweet, the first of everything. He would not 
know what we do, or, along with men, who live in doubtful belief, 

He would believe without the certainty of knowledge. To at- 
tribute such an error to God would be to commit the devil’s work; 
no man who wanted to enjoy Reason should hear it. Hence, when 
man’s will exerts itself in any direction, he must perforce, in what- 
ever he does, perform it, think, say, wish, or obtain it in just that 
way. Then the thing that cannot be deflected is destined. It seems 
that it should follow from this argument that nothing may have 
free will. 


The Overthrow of Treason 

1 71 55 “And if destinies bound all things that happen, as this argument 
proves by the appearance that it finds in it, then what reward 
should God have in mind for him who works well or what punish- 
ment for him who works badly, when neither of them can do 
otherwise? Even if one had sworn the opposite, he couldn’t do any- 
thing else. Then God would not be doing justice in rewarding good 
and punishing vice, for how could he do so? If one wanted to con- 
sider the question well, there would be neither virtue nor vice, 
nor celebration of the mass in the chalice of suffering. To pray 
to God would be worth nothing if vice and virtue were lacking. 
Or if God did justice, in the absence of vice and virtue, it would 
not be just 3 instead, He would declare usurers, thieves, and mur- 
derers acquitted. He would weigh all, the good and the hypocrites, 
with an equal weight. Thus those who exerted themselves to love 
God would be shamed indeed if in the end they lacked His love. 
And they would have to lack it, since the argument comes to the 
conclusion that no one could obtain the grace of God through 
good works. 

1 87 “But He is without doubt just, for all goodness shines in Him; 
otherwise there would be a defect in Him in whom there is no 
lack. Then He returns either gain or loss to each according to his 
deserts. Then all works are recompensed and the destinies an- 
nihilated, at least as laymen feel, who ascribe all things to destiny, 
good, evil, false, and true, as necessary occurrences; and free will, 
which such people go around treating so badly, is seen to exist. 

1 7 20 1 “But suppose that someone wanted to raise another objection 

in order to glorify the destinies and shatter free will. Many have 
been tempted to do so. About some possible thing, however un- 
likely, he would say, at least when it happened, ‘If anyone had 
foreseen it and said, “Such a thing will be, and nothing will deflect 
it,” wouldn’t he have told the truth? Thus this would be necessity. 
For it follows, from the interchangeability of truth and necessity, 
that if the thing is true, then it is necessary. Hence a thing must 
perforce be when it is constrained by necessity.’ 

1 72 1 9 “How could one who wanted to reply escape from this reason- 
ing? Certainly he would be speaking about something true, but not 
therefore necessary. For although he may have foreseen it, the 
thing did not happen as a necessary occurrence, but only as a possi- 
ble one. If one examines the case well, it is conditional necessity, 

Stature's Q onfession 289 

not simple necessity. Thus the reasoning is not worth a wimple. 
If a thing to come is true then it is necessary, for such contingent 
truth cannot be interchanged with simple necessity, as can simple 
truth. Such reasoning cannot avail to destroy free will. 

“On the other hand, if one were to follow this logic, he should 
never seek people’s advice on anything or do any work on earth ; 
for why should one get advice or do any work if everything were 
predestined and predetermined? There would never be more or 
less, and there could not be any better or worse, because of any 
advice or manual labor, whether it was a thing born or to be born, 
done or to be done, something to be said or something to keep 
silent about. No one would need to study ; he would know without 
study whatever arts he will know if he studies with great labor for 
his whole life. But this idea is not to be conceded: one should deny 
completely then that the works of humanity happen by necessity. 
Instead people do good or evil freely through their will alone. To 
tell the truth, there is nothing outside of themselves that may make 
their will choose in such a way that they cannot take or leave it, 
if they wished to use their reason. 

“But it would be difficult to reply to and confute all the argu- 
ments that can be brought up in opposition. Many have wanted to 
trouble themselves and have said, in a distilled judgment, that 
divine prescience lays no necessity whatever on the works of 
humanity. They go around pointing out that because God knows 
them beforehand, it does not follow that the works of men are 
forced to take place or that they hold to such ends. But because 
they will happen and will have this or that result, therefore, they 
say, God knows them beforehand. But these people untie the knot 
of this question badly. For if 6ne sees the trend of their argument 
and wants to follow out their logic, and if they are giving a true 
idea, then the things that are to come are the causes of God’s fore- 
knowledge and cause it to be necessary. But it is a great folly to be- 
lieve that God’s understanding is so weak that it depends on the 
deeds of others, and those who follow such an idea wage an evil 
battle against God when, by creating such fables, they wish to 
enfeeble his foreknowledge. Reason cannot understand that one 
might teach anything to God; certainly He could not be perfectly 
wise if He were found so deficient that this instance were proved 
against Him. This reply then, which hides God’s foreknowledge 




290 The Overthrow of Treason 

and conceals His great providence under the shadows of ignorance, 
is worth nothing. This much is certain: His providence can learn 
nothing from the works of humanity ; and if it could, such a char- 
acteristic would come from impotence. Such an idea remains pain- 
ful to relate and even sinful to think. 

1 73 1 3 “Others will feel otherwise about it and reply according to 
their ideas ; they will certainly agree that however it may happen 
with things that go by free will, just as choice gives them out, God 
knows whatever will happen with them and toward what end each 
one will tend. But they make this small addition: He knows the 
way in which they are to happen. With this argument they want 
to uphold the idea that there is no necessity, but that things go 
according to possibility. Thus God knows what ends things will 
come to and whether they will take place or not. He knows all 
this, that everything will hold to one of two ways. One thing 
will go by negation, another by affirmation, but not so finally that 
it may not perhaps turn out otherwise, for if free will wants to in- 
sist, it may turn out otherwise. 

17337 “But how did anyone dare make this argument? How dared 
he despise God so much that he gave Him the kind of foreknowl- 
edge with which He knows nothing except in a doubtful way, when 
He cannot perceive the truth absolutely? When He knows the end 
of a deed, He has not known it to be so if it can turn out other- 
wise j if He sees something keep to a result other than that which 
He knew, his foreknowledge would be deceived, an uncertain 
situation like a deceptive opinion, as I have shown before. 

*73 5 2 “Still others have gone by another route and many still hold 

to this idea. They say of the deeds that take place by possibility 
here on earth that they all come by necessity as far as God is con- 
cerned, but not otherwise. For however it may be with free will, 
He knows things finally, forever, without any mistake, before they 
have taken place, whatever ends they may have, and He knows 

17364 all this through necessary knowledge. They undoubtedly speak the 
truth in so far as they agree in the idea, which they develop as a 
truth, that God’s knowledge is necessary, eternal, and free of ignor- 
ance, and that He knows how things will happen. But He lays 
no constraint upon them, either as far as He is concerned or as far 
as men are concerned. To know the whole of things, with the de- 
tails of all their possibilities, all this comes to Him from His great 

Stature's Confession 29 1 

power, from His goodness and His knowledge, from which noth- 
ing can be hidden. If one wanted to reply that according to this 
reasoning He lays necessity upon our deeds, he would not be 
saying the truth, for I insist that things do not exist because He 
foreknows them and that the fact that they occur afterward will 
never make them foreknown. But because He is all-powerful, all- 
good, and all-knowing, therefore He knows the truth about every- 
thing, so that nothing can deceive Him, and nothing can exist 
that He does not see. If one wanted to understand the matter and 
stick to the straight way — and it is not an easy thing to understand 
— he could set a rough example to lay people, who don’t under- 
stand writing. Such people want something general, without any 
great subtlety of a gloss. 

“Our case could be something like this: suppose that a man 
did something, whatever it might be, by free will, or abstained 
from doing it because, if we examine the case, he would be ashamed 
of it; and suppose that someone else knew nothing of it before 
the first had done it or, if he preferred to refrain from the deed, 
before he had omitted to do it. Then this second person, who knew 
about the thing afterward, would never on that account have con- 
tributed necessity or constraint to the situation. And if he had 
also had foreknowledge of it, as long as he did not go interfering 
but simply knew it, that fact would not have prevented the first 
person from doing what pleased or suited him or from abstaining 
from doing it, if he were allowed by his will, which is so free 
that he can flee the deed or follow it. 

“In the same way God, only more nobly and in a completely 
absolute way, knows things to come and the ends to which they 
must keep, no matter how the thing may exist through the power 
of its human master, who holds the power of choice in his sub- 
jection and is inclined to one side by his sense or his folly. And 
God knows how the things that have occurred were done and 
accomplished. He knows too about the people who abstained from 
some deeds, and He knows if they omitted to do them out of 
shame or for some other cause, reasonable or unreasonable, just 
as their will leads them. I am completely certain that there is a 
great plenty of people who are tempted to do evil and who omit to 
do it; some of them abstain in order to live virtuously and only 
for the love of God; they are people with ways of grace, but they 


1 742 1 



292 T he Overthrow of Treason 

are scattered few and far between. The others, who plan to sin 
if they think that they will not find it forbidden, subdue their 
hearts for fear of pain or shame. God sees all this open and present 
before His eyes, along with all the conditions of deeds and inten- 
tions. Nothing can be kept from Him, no matter how one may 
try to delay; for there will never be a thing so far away that God 
may not hold it before Him as if it were present. Let ten years 
go by, or twenty or thirty, in fact five hundred or a hundred 
thousand, and whether the event occurs in the country or the city, 
whether it is honest or something that one should not do, still God 
sees it from this very moment as if it had taken place. And He 
has seen it always in true detail in His eternal mirror, which no 
one, except Him, can polish without taking away his free will. 
This mirror is the same one from which we took our beginning. 
In this beautiful polished mirror, which He keeps and has always 
kept with Him, in which He sees all that will happen and will keep 
it always present, He sees where the souls will go who will serve 
Him loyally; He sees also the place of those who have no concern 
for loyalty or justice, and in His ideas He promises them salva- 
tion or damnation for the deeds that they will have done. This is 
predestination, this the divine prescience that knows all and divines 
nothing, that is accustomed to extend its grace to men when it sees 
them directed toward good, and that has not, for all that, sup- 
planted the power of free will. All men work by free will, either 
for joy or sorrow. This predestination is His present vision, for 
if one unbinds the definition of eternity, it is the possession of life 
which cannot be grasped by an end, a life that is a complete whole, 
without any division. 

“But one must trace out to an end, as far as universal causes are 
concerned, the government of this world that God, by His great 
Providence, wanted to establish and regulate. These causes will 
perforce be such as they should be in all times. The heavenly 
bodies will make all their transmutations according to their revo- 
lutions, and they will use their powers, through necessary influ- 
ences, on individual things that are enclosed in the elements when 
these things receive upon themselves the heavenly rays as they 
should receive them. For things that can be engendered will always 
engender similar things, or they will make their combinations by 
natural dispositions, according to the properties that they have in 

Stature's Q onfession 293 

common with each other. The one that is to die will die, and he 
will live just as he can. The hearts of some, by their natural desire, 
will want to lie in idleness and in delights, these in virtues and 
these in vices. 

“But perhaps events will not always take place as the heavenly 
bodies direct, if things protect themselves from them, things that 
would always obey them if they had not been deflected by chance 
or by will. They will all always be tempted to follow the in- 
clination of the heart, which does not cease to draw them toward 
such an end, as toward a thing that is destined. Thus I grant that 
destiny may be that disposition, under predestination, that is added 
to changeable things, insofar as they are capable of being inclined 
in one direction or another. 

“Thus a man can have the fortune to be, from the time of 
his birth, successful and bold in his affairs, wise, generous, and 
good-natured, surrounded by friends and wealth, and renowned 
for great ability ; or he can have perverse fortune. But he must 
take care how he lives, for everything can be hindered either by 
virtue or by sin. If he feels that he may be mean and miserly, for 
such a man cannot be wealthy, he should oppose his habits with 
reason and keep only enough for himself. Let him take good 
heart, give and spend money, clothes, and food, provided that by 
doing so he does not get the reputation of being foolishly gen- 
erous. He who excites people to heap up treasure, makes them 
live in such martyrdom that nothing can suffice them, and so blinds 
and overwhelms them that he leaves them no good to do — he will 
have no liking for avarice. And when they wish to attach them- 
selves to him he makes them lose all virtues. In the same way, if 
one is not stupid, one can guard against all the other vices, or turn 
away from virtues if one wants to turn toward evil. For free will 
is so powerful, if one knows oneself well, that it can always be 
maintained if one can feel within one’s heart that sin wants to be 
its master, no matter how the heavenly bodies may go. For he who 
could foreknow the things that heaven wished to do could cer- 
tainly prevent them. If heaven wanted to dry out the air until 
all people would die of heat, and if the people knew it beforehand, 
they would construct new houses in damp places or near rivers, 
or they would dig out great caverns and hide themselves under- 
ground, so that they would not mind the heat. 







1 7635 


294 T he Overthrow of Treason 

“Or if, however late, it happened that a flood of water came, 
those who knew the places of refuge would leave the plains be- 
forehand and flee to the mountains. There they would build such 
strong ships that they would protect their lives against the great 
inundation, as Deucalion and Pyrrha did in former times when 
they escaped by the boat into which they entered when they were 
not seized by the flood. When they had escaped and come to a 
safe harbor and saw, when the seas had gone away, the marshy 
plains throughout the valleys of the world, and saw that there was 
no lord or lady in the world except Deucalion and his wife, they 
went away to confession at the temple of the goddess Themis, 
who adjudged the destinies of all things that were fated. There 
they went down on their knees and asked for Themis’s counsel 
on how they could set about to revive their line. 

“When Themis heard their request, a very fair and honest one, 
she advised them to go away and immediately throw their great 
mother’s bones behind their backs. This reply was so bitter to 
Pyrrha that she refused it and excused herself from her fate by 
saying that she should not destroy or break her mother’s bones. 
She continued until Deucalion told her the explanation of this 

“ ‘We must seek another meaning,’ he said. c Our great mother 
is the earth, and the rocks, if I dare name them, are certainly her 
bones. We must throw them behind us to revive our line.’ 

“Just as he said, so they did, and men sprang up from the 
rocks that Deucalion threw with good aim, and from Pyrrha’s rocks 
sprang women in body and soul, exactly as lady Themis had put in 
their ear. They never sought another father, and the hardihood 
of rock will never fail to appear in their race. Thus they worked 
wisely when they saved their life from the deluge in a boat. Those 
who knew about such a deluge beforehand could also escape. 

“Or if famine should spring up and cause a dearth of goods 
so that people had to die of hunger because they had no wheat, 
they could hold out enough grain two years, or three or four 
years, before it could happen, so that, when the famine came, all 
the people great and small could defeat the hunger, just as Joseph 
did in Egypt, when by his sense and his merit he created so great 
a store that they were able to provide from it without hunger and 
without discomfort. 

Stature’s Q onfession 295 

“Or if they could know beforehand that an extraordinarily 
unusual cold wave were to occur in winter, they would give their 
attention ahead of time to providing themselves with clothing and 
with great cartloads of logs to make fires in the fireplaces. And 
when the cold season came they would strew their house with 
fair, clean, white straw that they could gather on their farm. Then 
they would close up doors and windows, and the place would be 
more secure. 

“Or they would build hot bathhouses, in which, quite naked, 
they could hold their gay dances when they saw the weather grow 
furious and hurl stones and tempests that would have killed the 
beasts in the fields, and then seize the rivers and freeze them. No 
matter how much the weather might threaten them with tempests 
or ice, they would laugh at the threats. They would carol within, 
free of danger ; indeed they could mock the weather by providing 
for themselves in this way. But unless God worked a miracle 
through a vision or oracle, there is no one, I have no doubt, unless 
he knew by astronomy the strange complexions and various posi- 
tions of the heavenly bodies, and observed which climates they 
had influence over, there is no one, I say, who may know these 
things beforehand, for any knowledge or wealth. 

“Although the body has such power that it flies from the dis- 
temper of the heavens and thus disturbs them at their work by 
protecting itself so well against them, the force of the soul, I 
aver, is more powerful than that of the body. For the soul moves 
and carries the body 3 if it did not exist, the body would be a dead 
thing. Free will then, by the exercise of good understanding, could 
better and more easily avoid whatever can make it suffer. It has no 
concern that it may sorrow over anything, provided that it does 
not wish to consent to it and that it knows by heart that one is 
the cause of one’s own discomfort. Outside tribulation can only be 
the occasion of it. Neither has a man any concern over destinies, if 
he observes his nativity and knows his situation. What is this preach- 
ing worth? Free will is above all destinies, no matter how destined 
they are. 

“I would speak more about destinies, I would settle the subject 
of Fortune and chance, and I would like very much to explain 
everything, to raise more objections, reply to them, and give many 
illustrations for them, but I would spend too much time before I 





1 7737 



296 TVitf Overthrow of Treason 

finished everything. The good is decided elsewhere. He who does 
not know it may ask a clerk who had studied it and who may under- 
stand it. 

"I would never yet have spoken of this question, if I should 
have kept silent about it, but it belongs to my subject j for my 
enemy could say, when he heard me complain of him in this way 
and in order to make nothing of his disloyalties and to blame his 
creator, that I want to defame him wrongfully. He himself is 
accustomed to say often that he does not have the free will to 
choose, because God, with his foresight, holds him in such sub- 
jection that he directs every human thought and deed by destiny. 
Thus if he wants to draw toward virtue, God makes him do so 
by force, and if he strives to do evil, it is again God who forces 
him to do it. God does more than hold him by the finger, so that 
he does whatever he must — sinning, almsgiving, speaking well 
or cuttingly, giving praise or detraction, thieving, killing, making 
peace or marriage — either reasonably or foolishly. ‘Thus,’ he says, 
fit must be. God caused this woman to be born for this man, and he 
could not have another for any reason or for any possession. She 
was destined for him.’ And then if the match is badly made, 
since he or she may be a fool, and someone in conversation may 
condemn those who agreed to the marriage and arranged it, the 
senseless fellow will then reply to the critic: 'Apply to God,’ he 
will say, 'who wants the affair to go in this way. Without fail, 
he made all of this take placed And then he will confirm by oath 
that it could not go otherwise. 

“No, no, this reply is false. The true God, who cannot lie, does 
not serve men such a sauce that he makes them consent to evil. 
The mad thinking that gives birth to the evil consent which moves 
them to deeds from which they should have refrained — this think- 
ing comes from them. For they could indeed have refrained, pro- 
vided only that they had known themselves. Then they would 
have called upon their Creator, who would have loved them if 
they had loved Him 3 for he alone loves wisely who knows him- 
self entirely. 

"Without doubt, all dumb animals, empty and bare of under- 
standing, are by nature incapable of knowing themselves, for if 
they had speech and reason with which to understand one another, 
so that they could instruct each other, it would be an evil occurrence 

Stature's Confession 297 

for men. The beautiful chargers with their manes would never let 
themselves be subdued, nor allow knights to mount them 5 the ox 
would never put his horned head beneath the yoke of the cart. 
No donkey, mule, or camel would ever carry a load for man or 
consider him worth a cake. No elephant would ever carry a castle 
upon its tall backbone (the elephant sounds a trumpet with his 
nose, and with his nose, as a man does with his hand, he also feeds 
himself night and morning). No dog or cat would serve him, for 
they could very well get along without him. Bears, wolves, lions, 
leopards, and wild boars would all want to strangle man; even 
the rat would strangle him when he was little in his cradle. For no 
call would any bird ever put its skin in danger; instead it could 
harm man very much by putting out his eyes while he was sleeping. 
If one wanted to reply to this reasoning that he thought he could 
overcome them all, because he knew how to make armor, helmets, 
hauberks, hard swords, bows, and crossbows, the other animals 
could do so also. Don’t they have monkeys and marmots that 
would make them good coats of leather and iron, doublets in 
fact? They would never wait for hands, for they would work with 
their own and would be in no way inferior to man; they could 
be writers. They would never be so empty-headed that they might 
not all exercise their wits over how to oppose these arms and over 
what devices they might make as well to give great trouble to 
men. Even fleas and earwigs, if they were enclosed in their ears 
while they were sleeping, would annoy them wondrously. Even 
lice, mites, and nits would often give them so many struggles 
that they would make them leave their jobs, bend and get down, 
turn, flinch, jump, skip, scratch themselves and fuss around, and 
take off their clothes and shoes, so hard could these insects pursue 
them. Even flies could often give them great difficulty at their 
meals and attack them in their faces; it wouldn’t matter if they 
were kings or pages. Ants and small vermin would do them a 
great deal of injury if they knew about them. But it is true that 
the animals’ ignorance comes from their nature. However, if a 
reasonable creature, whether mortal man or divine angel, all of 
whom should give praise to God, is foolish and does not know 
himself, this defect comes to him from his vice, which troubles 
and fuddles his sense, for such a creature can indeed follow reason 
and can use free will; there is nothing that can excuse him from 



298 "The Overthrow of Treason 

doing so. It is for this reason that I have said so much to you 
about it and brought up arguments to quell men’s gossip on the 
subject, for nothing can defend them against it. 

17875 “But in order to follow out my intention, from which I want 
to be freed, and because of the sorrow that I recall and that troubles 
me in body and soul, I do not want to say anything more on this 
subject now. I turn back now to the heavens, which indeed do 
whatever they must do to creatures, who receive the celestial in- 
fluences according to their different substances. 

1 78 85 “These influences make the winds blow against one another, 
make the air break out in flame, yell and cry out, and burst out in 
many parts with thunder and lightning that rumble, drum, and 
trumpet until the clouds are burst open by the vapors that they 
have raised. Then the heat and movement rend the bellies of the 
clouds with their horrible struggles, and the tempest rages, throws 
out thunderclaps, raises up clouds of dust on the earth, even beats 
down towers and steeples and so wrenches many old trees that 
they are torn from the earth. They were never so strongly attached 
that the roots were always good enough to keep them from going 
down to the ground or to keep a part or all of the branches from 
being broken off. 

17005 “Men might say that devils do these things with their crooks 
and battering rams, their claws and hooks, but such an opinion 
is not worth two turnips. They are mistaken, for no one has harmed 
anything except the tempests and the winds that go in pursuit. 
These are the things that harm them, those that blow over the 
wheat and cut down the vines and beat down the flowers and fruit 
from the trees. The winds blow them and beat them so much that 
they cannot stay on the branches long enough to mature. 

1 791 9 “Indeed the heavens also make the atmosphere weep great 
tears at different times, and the clouds have such great compassion 
for it that they unclothe themselves until they are quite naked ; 
they don’t give a straw for the black cloak in which they are 
clothed. They feel such sorrow that they tear it completely to 
pieces and help the sky to weep, as if it were to make them perish 
as a result. They weep so deeply, so strongly and heavily, that 
they make the rivers overflow their banks and strive with their 
raging floods against the fields and nearby forests. Then floods 
often make the grain die and living become expensive, and as a 

Stature's Confession 299 

result the poor people who work the fields weep over the hopes 
that are lost. When the rivers overflow their banks, the fish, who 
follow their rivers, as is right and reasonable, since they are their 
own homes, go off like lords and masters to feed on fields, mead- 
ows, and vineyards. They run into oaks and pines and ash trees; 
they steal the manors and inheritances of the wild beasts and thus 
go swimming everywhere. Then Bacchus, Ceres, Pan, and Cybele 
all go around raging passionately when the fish with their fins 
go trooping around through their delightful pastures. The satyrs 
and fairies are very sorrowful when through such floods they 
lose their pleasant groves. The nymphs weep for their fountains 
when they find them full of rivers, overflowing and covered up, 
as if they wept their loss. The elves and dryads also have hearts 
so sick with grief that they think themselves lost when they see 
their woods invaded, and they complain of the river gods who 
bring them fresh troubles, undeserved and unrecompensed, al- 
though they have really lost nothing. The fish are also house 
guests in the nearby low-lying towns, which they find wretched 
and mean. There remains no grange or cellar, no place so valuable 
and fine that they do not go installing themselves everywhere. 
They go into temples and churches, where they rob the gods of 
their services and harry from their dark rooms the private gods 
and images. 

“And when at the end of the play the fair weather scatters the 
foul — for stormy, rainy weather is displeasing and harmful to the 
heavens — the atmosphere takes off all its anger and laughs and 
rejoices. And when the clouds also see the skies rejoicing, then 
they too rejoice, and, in order to be pleasing and beautiful after 
their sorrows, they make dresses of all their beautiful colors. They 
put out their fleeces to dry in the pleasant warmth of the beautiful 
sun and in the clear, resplendent weather, they go about teasing 
and carding them. They spin, and when they have spun, they set 
flying, with their spinning, great spindlefuls of white thread as if 
it were for sewing up their sleeves. 

“Then when they again take courage to go afar on pilgrimage, 
they harness their horses, climb and pass along mountains and 
valleys, and flee like madmen; for Aeolus, the god of winds, is the 
one they call upon, and when he has harnessed them well, for 
they have no other charioteer who knows how to deal with their 




1 800 1 

300 The Overthrow of Treason 

horses, he puts on their feet such good wings that no bird has 
anything like them. 

18013 “Then the sky takes up its blue cloak, which it wears very will- 
ingly in India, and decks itself out and strives to adorn itself and 
be festive to wait in fine array until the clouds return. To comfort 
the earth as well as to go hunting, the clouds are accustomed to 
carry a bow in their hand, or two or three when they wish; these 
are called celestial bows, and no man, unless he is a master good 
enough to teach optics, knows how the sun varies their colors, 
how many or what colors they have, nor why there are so many 
and these particular ones, nor the cause of their shape. One would 
have to take the trouble to be a disciple of Aristotle, who made 
better observations of nature than any man from the time of Cain. 
Alhazen, the nephew of Huchain, was neither a fool nor a simple- 
ton, and he wrote the book of Optics, which anyone who 
wants to know about the rainbow should know about. The student 
and observer of nature must know it and he must also know 
geometry, the mastery of which is necessary for the proofs in the 

1 8044 book of Optics. There he will be able to discover the causes 
and the strength of the mirrors that have such marvelous powers 
that all things that are very small— thin letters, very narrow writ- 
ing, and tiny grains of sand — are seen as so great and large and 
are put so close to the observers — for everyone can distinguish 
among them — that one can read them and count them from so 
far off that anyone who had seen the phenomenon and wanted to 
tell about it could not be believed by a man who had not seen it 
or did not know its causes. This would not be a case of belief, since 
he would have the knowledge of the phenomenon. 

1 806 1 “If Mars and Venus, who were captured in the bed where they 
were lying together, had looked at themselves in such a mirror 
before they got up on the bed, provided that they held their 
mirror so that they could see the bed in it, they would never have 
been captured or bound in the fine, thin nets that Vulcan had 
placed there and that neither of them knew anything about. Even 
if he had made the nets finer than spider web, they would have 
seen them and Vulcan would have been deceived. They would 
not have entered the trap because every net would have appeared 
to them thicker and longer than a large beam, and cruel Vulcan, 
burning with jealousy and anger, would never have proved their 

Nature’s Confession 301 

adultery. The gods would never have known anything about them 
if they had had such mirrors, for they would have fled from the 
place when they saw the nets stretched out there and run to lie in 
some other place, where they might better hide their desire. Or 
they would have worked some expedient to avoid their misfortune 
without being shamed or troubled. 

“Now by the faith that you owe me, do I tell the truth in 
what you have heard?” 

“Yes, certainly,” the priest told her. “It is quite true that these 
mirrors were very necessary to them then, for they could have 
come together elsewhere when they knew the danger. Or perhaps 
Mars, the god of battle, would have taken revenge on jealous 
Vulcan by cutting the nets with his sword that cuts so well. Then 
he could have satisfied his woman at his ease in the bed, without 
seeking any other place, or near the bed, even on the floor. And 
if by any chance — and it would have been a cruel, hard one — 
Dan Vulcan had come upon them there, even when Mars held her, 
then Venus, a very discreet lady — for there is a great deal of fraud 
in women — if she could have enough time to cover her loins when 
she heard the door open, would have certainly had excuses, through 
some caviling, and would have made up some other reason for 
Mars’s presence in the house. And she would have sworn whatever 
you like until she had robbed him of his proofs, and she would 
have forced him to believe that the affair was never true. Even if 
he had seen it, she would have said that his sight had been dark 
and confused. Thus would she have used double talk in different 
convolutions to find excuses, for nothing swears or lies more 
boldly than a woman, and IVlars would have gone off completely 

“Certainly you speak well, sir priest,” she said, “like a worthy, 
courteous, wise man. Women have too many devious and malicious 
ways in their hearts, and he who does not know that is a foolish 
ignoramus. However, we do not excuse women for their ways. Cer- 
tainly they swear and lie more boldly than any man, particularly 
when they feel themselves guilty of some misdeed, and they will 
be especially careful never to get caught in such a deed. Thus I 
can truthfully say that anyone who sees a woman’s heart should 
never be proud of doing so. He would not do so safely, since 
some misfortune would happen to him otherwise as a result.” 




302 The Overthrow of Treason 

1 8147 Thus, it seemed to me, Nature and Genius agreed with each 
other. Still, since I want to stick to the truth, Solomon says that a 
man who found a good woman would be blessed. 

1 81 53 “Mirrors still have many other great and wonderful powers,” 
said Nature. “Large, bulky objects set very close seem set so far 
away that even the largest mountains between France and Cerdagne 
can be seen so small, so tiny, that one could hardly distinguish 
among them, no matter how long one kept at it. 

18163 “Other mirrors, if you look carefully in them, show truly the 
right amounts of things that one sees in them. There are others 
that burn things when directed at them, if one knows how to 
adjust them rightly in order to collect the sun’s rays together 
when they are shining on the mirrors and reflecting from them. 
Others make different images appear in different situations — 
straight, oblong, and upside down in different arrangements. Those 
who are masters of mirrors make one image give birth to several: 
if they have the right form ready, they create four eyes in one 
head, and they make phantoms appear to those who look within. 
They even make them appear, quite alive, outside the mirror, 
either in water or in the air. One can see the images play between 
the eye and the mirror, by means of different angles, either com- 
pound or single, of one sort or another in which the form is re- 
versed and continues, by the appropriate means, to multiply itself 
until it comes to the eyes, appearing along with the reflected rays 
that the medium receives in so many different ways that it deceives 
the observers. 

1 81 97 “Aristotle himself bears witness. He was certainly one who knew 

about this matter, for he valued all knowledge. A certain man, he 
tells, was sick, and his disease had very much weakened his sight. 
The atmosphere was dark and troubled, and because of these two 
conditions he saw his face in the air in front of him, going from 
place to place. In short, mirrors, if they have no impediments, 
make many miracles appear. 

18209 “Different distances, in fact, with mirrors, create great decep- 
tions. They make things that are far apart from each other seem 
to be closely joined 5 depending on their differences, they make one 
thing seem to be two, or three six, or four eight, if one wants to 
amuse himself with such sights, or one may see more or less. 
One’s eyes may be so placed that several things seem one if one 

Stature’s Confession 303 

arranges them well so as to bring them together. Mirrors may 
make a man that is so small as to be called a dwarf appear to the 
eye as if he were larger than ten giants, and to appear to stride 
over the woods, without bending or breaking a branch, so that 
everyone trembles with fear. This resemblance of dwarfs to giants 
is the result of the eyes’ error when they see them so differently. 

“And after these people have been thus deceived, after they 
have seen such things in mirrors or because of distances, which 
have created such illusions for them, then they go to other people 
and boast, and their sight has been so deceived that they say, not 
in truth but falsely, that they have seen devils. 

“Infirm and troubled eyes indeed make one thing seem double, 
make a double moon appear in the sky, or make one candle seem 
to be two, and there is no one who guards himself so well that he 
may not often make faulty observations. As a result many things 
are judged to be quite other than they are. 

“But I do not now want to take the trouble to clarify the shapes 
of mirrors, nor do I want to tell how rays are reflected or to de- 
scribe their angles. Everything is written elsewhere in a book. Nor 
do I wish to say why the images of mirrored things are reflected 
to the eyes of those who look at themselves when they turn toward 
the mirrors j nor do I want to talk of the places of their appearance 
or the causes of the deceptions, or, fair priest, about where such 
images have their being, either inside the mirror or outside. I 
will not now tell about other marvelous sights, either pleasant or 
sorrowful, that one sees happen suddenly, or about whether they 
come from outside or only from fantasy. I will not and must not 
explain these things in detail now, but instead will pass over them 
in silence, along with the things I mentioned before, which I shall 
never describe. I have a very long subject, and it would be a bur- 
densome thing to tell and very difficult to understand, even if 
someone knew how to teach it without speaking generally, espe- 
cially to lay people. They could not believe that the things were 
true, particularly the things about the mirrors that work in such 
different ways, unless they saw them with instruments, provided 
that the students who knew this wonderful science through demon- 
stration wanted to let them use their instruments. 

“No more readily could they grant the types of visions, so 
strange and wonderful are they, no matter who wanted to explain 









304 T'he Overthrow of Treason 

them, nor the deceptions that such visions bring, either waking 
or sleeping, and that have dumbfounded many people. Therefore 
I want to pass over these things here; I don’t want to tire myself 
with talking nor you with hearing. It is a good thing to flee pro- 
lixity. Women are very troublesome and contrary about talking. 
But I beg you not to be displeased if I don’t keep completely quiet 
on the subject, if indeed I stick to the truth. In any case I want 
to say in this connection that many are so deceived by these dreams 
that they are moved out of their beds; they dress and put on 
their shoes and get ready with all their gear while their common 
senses sleep and their individual senses are all awake. They take 
up staffs and sacks, or stakes, sickles, or pruning hooks, and they 
go off on long journeys without knowing where. They even get 
up on horses and pass along mountains and valleys, by dry roads 
or muddy, until they come to strange places. Then when their 
common senses awake, they are completely amazed, and they 
marvel. Afterward, when they come back to their right senses 
and are with people, they aver, not to tell stories, that devils have 
taken them from their houses and brought them there. But they 
themselves brought themselves. 

“It still happens very often that when people are seized by 
some great sickness, the sort that shows up in a frenzy, and when 
they don’t have sufficient protection, or are lying alone in the house, 
they jump up and start traveling, never stopping until they find 
some wild place, meadows, vineyards, or groves, and there let 
themselves fall down. Afterwards, if someone comes by there, no 
matter how much later, he can see them, dead from cold and ex- 
posure, because they had no protection whatever, except perhaps 
foolish or evil people. 

“One sees a great number of people who, even when they are 
well, are many times, through natural habit, given to think too 
much in an unregulated way when they are very melancholy or 
irrationally fearful; they make many different images appear in- 
side themselves, in ways other than those we told about just a 
short time ago when we were speaking about mirrors. And it 
seems to them then that all these images are in reality outside them. 
Or there are those who, with great devotion, do too much con- 
templating and cause the appearance in their thought of the things 
on which they have pondered, only they believe that they see them 

^Nfature^s (Confession 305 

quite clearly and outside themselves. But what they see is only 
a trifling lie, just as with a man who dreams. He sees, I think, 
the spiritual substances in their actuality, as Scipio did formerly. 
He sees hell and paradise, heaven, air, sea, and earth, and all that 
one may seek there. He sees the stars appear, birds flying through 
the air, fish swimming in the sea, and beasts in the woods, playing 
and describing pretty turns. He sees different kinds of people, some 
enjoying themselves in their rooms, others out hunting through 
woods, mountains, and rivers, through meadows, vineyards, and 
fallow fields. He dreams about law pleas and judgments, wars and 
tournaments, balls and carols, and viols and citoles. He recognizes 
odorous spices, tastes savory dishes, and feels his sweetheart in his 
arms, even though she is not there. Or he sees Jealousy coming, 
holding a pestle at her neck; she finds them there in the act, by 
means of Foul Mouth, who makes up things before they take 
place and brings constant dismay to all lovers. Those who call 
themselves pure lovers, when they burn with love for one another 
and have great toil and trouble, when at night they have gone 
to sleep in their beds or have thought a great deal — I know their 
characteristics — then they dream of the beloved things that they 
have asked for so much by day; or they dream of the adversaries 
who make so much trouble and opposition for them. 

“If they are in a state of deadly hatred, they dream, either di- 
rectly or by contraries, of anger and quarrels, of struggles with the 
enemies who have set off their hatred, and of the things that fol- 
low on war. 

“Again, if by some great mishap, they are put in prison, they 
dream of their release, if their hopes are good, or of the gibbet or 
rope if during the day their hearts have told them about these 
things; or they dream about other unpleasant things that are not 
outside, but within. However, they think at that time that the truth 
is that they are outside; they make of everything an occasion for 
sorrow or joy, and they carry everything inside the head, which 
thus deceives the five senses with the phantoms that it receives. 
As a result, many people, in their folly, think themselves sorcerers 
by night, wandering with Lady Abundance. And they say that in 
the whole world every third child born is of such disposition that 
three times a week he goes just as destiny leads him; that such 
people push into all houses; that they fear neither keys nor bars, 



1841 1 

306 The Overthrow of Treason 

but enter by cracks, cat-hatches, and crevices ; that their souls leave 
their bodies and go with good ladies into strange places and through 
houses ; and they prove it with such reasoning: the different 
things seen have not come in their beds, but through their souls, 
which labor and go running about thus through the world ; and 
they make people believe that, as long as they are on such a 
journey, their souls could never enter their bodies if anyone had 

18449 overturned them. But this idea is a horrible folly and something 
not possible, for the human body is a dead thing as soon as it 
does not carry its soul ; thus it is certain that those who follow this 
sort of journey three times a week die three times and revive three 
times in the same week. And if it is as we have said, then the 
disciples of such a convent come back to life very often. 

18461 “But this is a matter that has been well dealt with, and I dare 
say without gloss that no one who must run out his life to his 
death has more than one death to die. And he will never return 
to life until his judgment day, except by a special miracle of God 
in heaven, like what we read of Saint Lazarus. We do not deny 
these occurrences. 

18471 “When, on the other hand, they say that after the soul has 
parted from the body, which is thus denuded, it does not know 
how to come back to it if it finds it overturned, who can support 
such fables? For it is true, and I recall it well, that the soul that is 
severed from the body is clearer, wiser, and cleverer than when 
it is joined to the body. With the body, it follows the body’s dis- 
position, which clouds the soul’s aim. Thus then the entry into the 
body is better known than the exit, and the soul would find it 
sooner, no matter how overturned it found the body. 

18487 “Again, in connection with the idea that a third of the world 
goes with Lady Abundance in this way, silly old women prove it 
by the visions that they find. Then it must be, without fail, that 
the entire world goes that way, for there is no one, whether he 
lies or tells the truth, who does not dream many visions, not just 
three times a week, but fifteen times in two weeks, or perhaps 
more or less, according to the strength of his fantasy. 

18499 “I do not want to say any more about dreams, about whether 
they are true or lies, whether one should distinguish among them 
or if they should all be despised, about why some are more hor- 
rible, others more beautiful and peaceful, according to their appear- 

S^CjituTc* s Confession 3 oy 

ances in different dispositions or according to the various inclina- 
tions of the hearts in different ways and times, or about whether 
God sends revelations through such visions or the malign spirits 
do so, to put people in danger. I will not undertake all this, but 
will come back to my subject. 

I say to you then that when the clouds are tired and worn 
out from shooting their arrows through the air, more of them 
moist than dry, for the clouds have sprinkled them all with rain 
and dew, unless some heat dries them to draw out something 
dr y then, when they have shot as long as it seems good to them, 
they unstring their bows together. But the bows that these archers 
use have very strange ways, for all their colors flee when they are 
unstrung and sheathed. Never afterward will they shoot with the 
very same bows that we have seen; if they want to shoot another 
time, they must make new bows which the sun can paint with many 
colors. They must not shape them in any other way. 

“The influence of the heavens does still more, for they have 
great power by sea and land and air. They cause comets to appear. 
Comets are not placed in the heavens, but kindled in the atmos- 
phere; they last for a short time after they are created, and many 
fables are taken from this circumstance. Those who never stop 
divining predict the deaths of princes on the basis of comets. But 
comets do not spy out the poor more than the rich or the rich more 
than the poor, nor do their influences or rays lie more thickly on 
one than on the other. We are certain that they operate on the 
regions of the world according to the dispositions of climate, men, 
and animals, that are subject to the influences of the planets and 
stars that have greater power over them; the comets bear the 
import of celestial influences and they disturb complexions as they 
find them obedient. 

“I do not sa y or affirm that kings should be called rich, any 
more than the little people who go on foot through the streets; 
for sufficiency creates wealth and covetousness creates poverty. One 
may be a king where there is nothing worth two peas, and he 
who covets more is less rich. If you want to believe what is written, 
kings resemble paintings. He who wrote the Almagest for us 
affords us an instance of this idea, if anyone who looks at paintings 
knew how to give good attention to them. They may please if one 
does not approach them, but close up, the pleasure stops; from 








308 The Overthrow of Treason 

far off they seem very delightful, but from close they are not so. 
Powerful friends are the same. When one does not know them, 
their help and acquaintance are sweet, through the lack of trial; 
but if anyone tested them well, he would find there so much bitter- 
ness that he would fear very much to push in that direction, so 
much is their favor to be feared. Thus Horace assures us about 
their love and favor. 

“Princes are not worthy that the heavenly bodies should give 
signs of their deaths rather than those of other men. The body 
of a prince is worth not one apple beyond that of a plowman, a 
clerk, or a squire, for I make them all alike, as it appears at their 
birth. Through me they are all, strong and weak, great and small, 
born alike and naked. As far as the condition of humanity is con- 
cerned, I put them all on an equal footing. Fortune does the rest. 
She does not know how to be permanent; she gives her benefits 
at her pleasure and takes no care about which person she gives to, 
and she takes back or will take back as many times as she wants. 

“And if anyone who boasts of his nobility dares contradict me 
and say that noblemen — those whom people call noblemen — are, 
through their nobility of birth, of better standing than those who 
cultivate the earth or live by their labor, then I reply that no 
one is noble unless he is intent on virtue, and no man is base except 
because of his vices, which make him appear unbridled and stupid. 

“Nobility comes from a good heart, for nobility of ancestry 
is not the nobility of true worth when it lacks goodness of heart. 
For this reason a nobleman must display the prowess of his an- 
cestors, who conquered their nobility by means of the great labors 
that they gave to it. When they passed from the world, they carried 
all their virtues with them and left their possessions to their heirs, 
who could have nothing more of them. They have the possessions, 
but nothing else is theirs, not nobility or valor, unless they act so 
that they may be noble through the sense and the virtues that they 
themselves possess. 

“Learned men have a greater opportunity than have princes 
or kings, who know nothing of what is written, to be noble, cour- 
teous, and wise, and I will explain why. In the things that are 
written, clerks see, with proved, reasonable, and demonstrated in- 
formation, all the evils from which one should withdraw and all 

Stature's Q onfessio?i 309 

the good things that one can do. He sees all the things of the world 
written down, just as they are done and said. In the lives of the 
ancients he sees the villainies of all the villains, all the deeds of 
courteous men, the summae of all courtesies. In short, he sees 
written in books whatever one should flee or follow. Thus all 
learned men, disciples or masters, are noble or should be; those 
who are not should know that the reason is that they have wicked 
hearts, for they have many more advantages than those who run 
after the wild stags. 

“Thus clerks who do not have noble and gentle hearts are worth 
less than any gentleman when they avoid the good things that 
they know about and follow vices that they have seen. Clerks 
who abandon themselves to vices should be more punished before 
the celestial emperor than should lay people, simple and ignorant, 
who do not have described for them in writing the virtues that the 
clerks consider low and despicable. Even if princes know how to 
read, they cannot undertake to study and learn a great deal, since 
they have too much to attend to elsewhere. Therefore you may 
know that learned men have a finer and greater advantage in gain- 
ing nobility than have earthly lords. 

“In order to conquer nobility, which is very honorable on earth, 
all those who wish to gain it must know this rule: whoever turns 
his desire toward nobility must guard against pride and laziness, 
must give himself to arms and to study and must empty himself of 
baseness. He must have a heart that is humble, courteous, and 
gentle in all places and toward all people, except, of course, toward 
his enemies when no agreement can be reached. He should honor 
ladies and girls, but not confide too much in them, since he could 
indeed be unfortunate as a result, for no one is very good to see 
through completely. Such a man should have praise and esteem, 
without blame or reprimand, and he, not others, should receive 
the name of nobility. 

“Consider the knights who are brave at arms, strong in deeds 
and courteous of speech, as in former times was Monsieur Gawain, 
who was unlike weak men, and as was the good Count Robert 
of Artois, who from the time that he left his cradle frequented 
generosity, honor, and chivalry all the days of his life and who 
was never pleased by idle periods, but rather became a man before 







310 The Overthrow of Treason 

his years. Such a strong, valiant knight, generous, courteous, and 
bold in battle, should be welcomed, praised, loved, and held dear 
by everyone. 

“One should also honor a clerk who wants to labor well with 
his mind, who thinks of following the virtues that he finds written 
about in his book. And certainly they did so in former times. I 
could easily name ten of them, indeed so many that if I numbered 
them, you would be bored at hearing the number. 

“Formerly, the valiant noblemen, as they are called in writing, 
the emperors, dukes, counts, kings, of whom I will never tell here, 
used to honor the philosophers. They even gave poets towns, gar- 
dens, places of honor, and many delightful things. Naples, a more 
delightful city than Paris or Lavardin, was given to Virgil, and 
in Calabria Ennius had beautiful gardens that were given to him 
by people of that time who knew him. But why should I find more 
of them? I would prove the case to you by several who were born 
of low ancestry and had hearts more noble than those of many a 
son of a king or a count ; I will never tell you about them here, 
but they were considered noble. Now, however, times have come 
to the point where the good people who work at philosophy all 
their lives, who go off to foreign lands to win sense and worth, 
who suffer great poverty and go begging or in debt, perhaps bare- 
foot and naked, are neither loved nor held dear. Princes don’t 
value them at an apple, and yet — may God keep me from having 
fevers — they are more gentlemen than those who go out chasing 
hares and than those who are in the habit of remaining on their 
paternal dung-heaps. 

“And is he who wants to carry off the praise and renown of 
another person’s nobility, when he has neither the worth nor 
prowess of that other, is he noble? I say no; he should rather be 
called base and considered vile, and loved less than if he were the 
son of a tramp. I shall never go around flattering any of that sort, 
even if he were the son of Alexander, who dared to undertake so 
many feats of arms, and who continued his wars until he was lord 
of all lands. After all those who fought against him obeyed him, 
and after those who had not defended themselves had surrendered, 
he was so tormented by pride that he said this world was so 
cramped that he could scarcely turn around; he did not wish to 
delay, but thought of seeking another world to begin a new war. 

Stature's Qonfession 3 1 1 

He went off to break open hell, so that he might be esteemed every- 
where. When I told the gods of hell about his coming, they all 
trembled with fear, for they thought that it would be He who, 
for the sake of souls dead through sin, was to break open the 
gates of hell with the crossed sticks of wood and to crush their 
great pride in order to draw His friends from hell. 

“But let us assume something that cannot be, that I cause some 
to be born noble and that I don’t care about the others whom they 
go around calling base. What good is there in nobility? Certainly, 
if one puts his wits to a good understanding of truth, he who 
may have the quality of nobility can understand nothing other 
than that people should follow their parents’ prowess. He who 
wants to be like a noble man must always live under this burden 
if he does not want to steal his nobility and have praise without 
deserving it. For I make known to all that nobility gives no other 
good thing to men than this burden alone. They know quite cer- 
tainly that no man should have praise because of the virtue of 
some person alien to him. And it remains unjust that one blame 
any person for another’s fault. He who deserves it may be praised. 
But it is not just, I dare well say, for anyone to have the praise that 
belongs to his parents when he himself serves no good, when one 
finds in him wickedness, meanness and bad humor, boasting and 
bluster, and when he remains deceitful and treacherous, stuffed 
with pride and insolence, devoid of charity and generosity, or 
neglectful and lazy — for one finds too many of this sort — even 
though he may be born of parents in whom every virtue appeared. 
Instead he should be considered lower than if he had come of a 
wretched line. 

“All men capable of understanding know that, as far as doing 
what one wishes is concerned, the acquisition of large dwellings 
and great amounts of money and adornments is not the same 
thing as the acquisition of sense, nobility, and renown through 
one’s prowess, for he who desires to work in order to acquire 
money, adornments, or land for himself, even though he may have 
amassed a hundred thousand marks of gold or still more, can 
leave everything to his friends ; but when he has put all his work 
into the other things we have spoken about, as long as he gains 
them by his merits, no love can force him to the point where he 
might ever leave them anything. Can he leave knowledge? No, 



312 The Overthrow of Treason 

nor nobility nor renown. But he can indeed teach them about these 
things if they want to take him as an example. He can do nothing 
else about it, nor can they draw anything more out of him. 

18851 “There are many who do not attach much importance to these 
things, who would not give a husk for anything except gaining pos- 
sessions and wealth. They say that they are gentlemen because they 
are so reputed ; because their good parents were (but they were 
such as they should have been) ; because they have dogs and birds 
so as to seem noble young men; because they go hunting by the 
rivers, through woods, fields, and briars; and because they idle 
away their time in amusements. But those who boast because of 
others’ nobility are villainous vassals. They do not speak the truth ; 
they lie and they steal the name of nobility when they do not 
resemble their good parents. For when I cause likenesses to be born, 
they acquire fresh nobility if they have so much ability and if they 
want to be noble with a nobility other than that which I give to 
them. This nobility is a very beautiful one. Its name is natural 
freedom, and I have put it into everyone equally, along with the 
reason that God gives them and that is so wise and good that it 
makes them like God and the angels, if it were not that death made 
them different. By means of this difference of mortality, death 

18883 brings about the separation of men. But if men do not acquire 
these new, noble qualities by themselves, they will never be noble 
through the efforts of others, and I do not except kings or counts. 
Besides, it is more shameful for the son of a king to be stupid and 
full of wild ways and vices than if he were the son of a carter, 
a swineherd, or a cobbler. Certainly it would be more honorable 
for the good fighter Gawain to have been engendered by a coward 
who sat by the fire, all covered with ashes, than to have been a 
coward with Renouart for his father. 

18897 “But without fail, it is no fable that the death of a prince is 
more notable than that of a peasant, when one finds him lying 
dead, and the speeches about it go on longer. And therefore the 
foolish people think, when they have seen comets, that they may 
have been created on account of princes. But if there were never 
a king or prince in all kingdoms and provinces, and if all on earth 
were equal, in peace or in war, still the heavenly bodies would cause 
the comets to be born in their time, when they had entered under 
the influences in which they were to perform such labors, provided 

Nature’s Confession 3 1 3 

that there was enough material in the atmosphere for them to 
work with. 

“The heavenly influences also make the stars appear to be 
dragons and sparks flying through the air and falling down from 
the heavens, as foolish people think. But reason cannot see that 
anything might fall from the heavens, for there is nothing cor- 
ruptible in them. Everything is solid and strong and stable. They 
do not receive forms that may be impressed upon them externally. 
Nothing could break them, nor would they allow anything to pass, 
no matter how subtle or piercing, unless, perhaps, it were spiritual. 
Their rays, certainly, pass through them, but neither harm them 
nor break them. 

“Through their various influences the heavenly bodies produce 
the hot summers and cold winters, the snow and the hail, large 
at one time, fine at another, and all the other impressions upon us. 
They do so according to their oppositions, according to whether 
they are far from each other, approaching, or in conjunction. For 
this reason many men often become dismayed when they see 
eclipses in the heavens. They think that they are in bad situations 
because they have been deprived of the influence of the planets 
that they had seen before, but have now lost sight of so suddenly; 
but if they knew the causes of eclipses, they would never be upset 
by them in any way. 

“By means of the combats of the winds that raise the waves of 
the sea, the heavens make the floods kiss the clouds; they pacify 
the sea again until it dares not grumble or make its waters leap, 
except for those that the moon always causes to move by necessity, 
making them ebb and flow. Nothing can hold this movement back. 

“And if someone wanted to inquire more deeply into the miracles 
that the stars and heavenly bodies perform on earth, he would find 
so many beautiful ones that if one wanted to put them down in 
writing he would never have written them all. Thus the heavens 
discharge their debts toward me; by their goodness they bring 
so much benefit that I can easily see that they do their whole 
duty well. 

“I do not complain about the elements. They keep my com- 
mandments well; they make their mixtures among themselves, 
turning into their different solutions. For well I know that what- 
ever is beneath the influence of the moon is corruptible. Nothing 






314 The Overthrow of Treason 

there can nourish itself so well that it will not have to rot entirely. 
All things by their dispositions, through natural direction, have a 
rule which neither fails nor lies: everything goes back to its be- 
ginning. This rule is so general that it does not want to fail in the 
case of the elements. 

18981 “Neither do I complain of the plants, for they are not slow 
to obey. They are very attentive to my laws and, as long as they 
live, they produce their roots and leaves, their stems and branches, 
fruits and flowers. Every year each one, like the grass, the trees, 
and the woods, bears whatever it can until it dies. 

18990 “Nor do I complain of the birds or the fish, which are very 
beautiful to look upon. They know well how to keep my rules, and 
they are such very good scholars that they all pull in my collar. 
They all produce their young in their different ways and do honor 
to their ancestry. They do not let their lines perish, and it is very 
comforting to see it so. 

18999 “I do not complain about other beasts that I have made, beasts 
with heads that are bent, all looking down toward the earth. They 
have never started war against me 3 they are all on my side and 
do as their fathers did. The male goes with his female, and they 
make a suitable, fair couple. All beget young, coming together at 
all times that seem good to them, and they make no market of it 
when they agree together ; instead, one likes to do things for the 
other with good-natured courtesy. And they all consider themselves 
repaid by the benefits that come to them through me. My beautiful 
insects, my ants, butterflies, and flies, act in this way. Worms born 
of rot do not cease to keep my commandments, and my snakes 
and adders are all diligent in my works. 

1 902 1 “But man alone, for whom I had made all the benefits that I 
knew how; man alone, whom I create and ordain to carry his 
face on high toward the heaven; man alone, whom I shape and 
cause to be born in the very form of his master; only man, for 
whom I struggle and labor, acts worse toward me than any wolf. 
He is the end of all my labor, and except for what I give him, he 
has nothing that is worth a pomander as far as his body is con- 
cerned, either in the whole body or in the limbs, nor in fact as far 
as his soul is concerned, except for one thing only. From me, his 
lady, he has received three powers, of body or of soul, for I can 

Stature's Confession 3 1 5 

indeed say without lying that I make him exist, live, and feel. 
The wretch has many advantages, if he wanted to be worthy and 
wise. He abounds in all the virtues that God has put into this 
world. He is companion to all things that are enclosed in the whole 
world, and he shares in their bounty. With the stones he has exist- 
ence, with the thick grass he lives, and with the dumb animals he 
feels. He is capable of still much more in that with the angels he 
understands. What more can I recount to you? He has whatever 
one can think of. He is a new little world, and he acts worse to- 
ward me than any wolf. 

“Certainly I know truly that I did not give him his under- 
standing; that is not my area of responsibility. I am neither wise 
nor powerful enough to create anything so capable of knowing. 
I never made anything eternal; whatever I create is corruptible. 
Plato himself bears witness to this fact when he speaks of my task 
and of the gods who have no concern over death. Their creator, 
he says, keeps and sustains them eternally by his will alone, and if 
this will did not maintain them they would all have to die. My 
deeds, he says, can all be dissolved, so poor and obscure is my 
power in comparison with the great power of the god who in his 
presence sees the three aspects of temporality under a moment of 

“He is the king, the emperor, who tells the gods that he is their 
father. Those who read Plato know this fact, for such are the 
words there; at least this is the meaning in the French language. 

“ ‘O gods of gods whose maker, father, and creator I am, and 
who are my creatures, my works, and my products, you are by 
nature corruptible but eternal through my will. For there will 
never be anything made by Nature, however great care she gives 
to it, that may not fail at some time; but whatever God, strong, 
good, and wise without equal, wishes to bring together and regulate 
with reason, He will never wish nor has ever wished to dissolve. 
Corruption will be powerless against it. Therefore I draw this con- 
clusion: since you began to exist through the will of your master, 
who made you and engendered you and by whom I hold you and 
will hold you, you are not entirely free of mortality nor of cor- 
ruption, since I would have seen you all die if I had not main- 
tained you. By nature you can die, but by my will you will never 






3 1 6 'The Overthrow of Treason 

die, for my will has lordship over the bonds of your life, the bonds 
that hold together its compositions, and from my will eternity 
comes to you . 5 

“This is the meaning of the words that Plato wanted to put into 
his book when he dared to speak better of God. He valued and 
glorified Him more than did any earthly being among the ancient 
philosophers. He could still not say enough, for he was not capable 
of understanding very perfectly what nothing except a virgin's 
womb could ever comprehend. But it is true without fail that 
she whose womb swelled understood more than Plato, for she 
knew from the time that she bore Him and rejoiced in doing so, 
that He was the wondrous sphere that can have no end, that shoots 
its center through every place and whose circumference has no 
fixed place. She knew that He was the wondrous triangle whose 
unity creates three angles, but whose three angles make only one 
whole. He is the triangular circle, the circular triangle who har- 
bored in the virgin. Plato did not know as much as that ; he did not 
see that the triple unity in this simple trinity, the sovereign deity 
clothed in a human skin, is God who is called Creator. He created 
man's understanding and in making it, gave it to man. But to tell 
the truth, man has repaid Him badly, for afterward he thought 
to deceive God; but he has deceived himself. For this deceit my 
Lord received His death when, without me, He took on human 
flesh to remove the wretch from his suffering. He did so without 
me, for I do not know how He did, except that He can do every- 
thing by His commandment. Instead I was very deeply amazed 
when for wretched man He was born in the flesh of the Virgin 
Mary and afterward was hanged in the flesh. It could never be 
through me that anything might ever be born of a virgin. In 
former times this Incarnation was foretold by many prophets, 
Jewish and pagan, so that we might better calm our hearts and strive 
to believe that the prophecy might be true. In Virgil's Bucolics we 
read this voice of the Sibyl, taught by the Holy Spirit: ‘Already a 
new line is sent down to us on earth from high heaven to guide 
the people, who have lost their way. With this line the age of 
iron will perish and the age of gold will spring up in the world.' 
Even Albumazar, however he knew about the matter, testifies that 
within the sign of the virgin would be born a worthy maiden who 
will be, he says, virgin and mother and will give suck to her 


Stature's Confession 317 

father, and whose husband will be near her without touching her at 
all. Anyone who wants to have Albumazar can know this sentence, 
since it lies all ready in the book. Every year in September Chris- 
tian people who remember such a birth hold a feast for it. 

“But our Lord Jesus knows that, with everything that I have 
talked about, I have labored for man ; it is for this wretch that I 
take this trouble. He is the end of all my work, and he alone works 
against my laws. This disloyal, forsworn creature does not consider 
himself repaid in any way; there is nothing that can satisfy him. 
What is the good of it? What more could one say? The honors 
that I did him could not be withdrawn, and he in turn shamed 
me so much that one could not measure or count how much. Fair 
sweet priest, fair chaplain, is it then just that I love him, that 
I hold any more reverence for him, when I find him lacking when 
he is tested? So help me God on the cross, I repent very much 
of having made man. But by the death suffered by Him whom 
Judas offered the kiss and whom Longinus struck with his lance, 
since he has done so much against me, I will tell the story of his 
fall before God, who gave him to me when he created man in his 
image. I am a woman and cannot keep silent; from now on I want 
to reveal everything, for a woman can hide nothing. Man was 
never better vilified than he will be now. It was an evil hour for 
him when he wandered so far from me. His vices will be re- 
counted; I shall tell the whole truth. 

“He is a proud, murderous thief, cruel, covetous, miserly, and 
treacherous. He is desperate, greedy, slanderous, hateful, and 
spiteful; unfaithful and envious, he lies, perjures himself, and 
falsifies; he is foolish, boastful, inconstant, and senseless; he is a 
quarrelsome idolator, a traitorous, false hypocrite, and a lazy 
sodomite; in short he is such a stupid wretch that he is slave to all 
the vices, and harbors them all within himself. See with what 
shackles the miserable creature chains himself. Does he do well to 
go buying his death by giving himself to such evils? And since all 
things must return the gift that they receive at the beginning of 
their existence, how will man dare, when he comes before his 
Master, to look at Him? He should always have served and 
honored his Master as much as he could, and he should have kept 
himself from evil. With what eyes will his Judge look at him 
when the miserable creature, with a heart so apathetic that he has 



3 i 8 "The Overthrow of Treason 

no desire to do well, is proved so wicked toward his Judge that he 
is found out in such vices? Great and small do the worst that they 
can as long as they keep their honor, and it seems that they have 
sworn an agreement with each other to do so. However, each one’s 
honor is not often safe through agreement; instead, they receive 
j 9 2 63 very great suffering, or death, or great worldly shame. What can 
the wretch think if he wants to recount his sins, when he comes 
before the Judge who weighs all things rightly, without error and 
without twisting or turning anything? What reward can he expect 
except the rope for leading him off to be hanged on the sorrowful 
gibbet of hell, where he will be taken and put in iron, riveted into 
eternal shackles, before the prince of devils? Or he will be boiled 
in a copper, roasted in front and behind on coals or on grills, 
or like Ixion, held with large pegs on cutting wheels that the devils 
turn with their paws. Or he will die of thirst and hunger in the 
marshes, along with Tantalus, who always bathes in water up to 
his chin but will never approach it with his mouth no matter 
how much his thirst drives him on. The more he follows the water, 
the lower it goes. Such strong hunger torments him that it can 
never be satisfied; instead he dies enraged by hunger. He cannot 
pick the apple that he always sees hanging at his nose, for when 
19295 he pursues it with his mouth, the apple raises itself higher. Or 
he will role the millstone along the surface of the rock, then go 
find it to roll it again, never to cease, as you did, O wretched 
Sisyphus, who were put there for that task. Or he will try to fill the 
bottomless cask and never succeed in filling it, as the Belidians 
did on account of their ancient follies. You know, fair Genius, 
how those vultures strove to eat Tityus’s liver; nothing could 
drive them away from it. In that place there are also many other 
great torments, cruelties, and villainies into which, perhaps, man 
will be put to endure tribulation, with great suffering and torture, 
until I am well revenged on him. In faith, if the Judge I spoke of 
before, who judges everything in word and deed, were only com- 
passionate, the usurers’ loans would perhaps be good and delight- 
ful; but he is always just and much to be feared. To enter into 
sin is evil. 

“Of course, I leave to God all the sins with which the wretch 
is stained; let God take care of them and punish when He pleases. 
But of those of whom Love complains (for I have indeed heard 


Nature’s Confession 319 

the complaint), I complain myself, as much as I can, and I should 
do so because they have denied me the tribute that all men have 
owed me, and always do and always will owe me as long as they 
receive my tools. O Genius with the gift of speech, go among the 
army to the God of Love, who strives mightily to serve me and 
who, I am certain, loves me so much that with his open, good- 
natured heart he wants to draw close to my works more than iron 
does to a magnet. Tell him that I send greetings to him and to my 
friend, the lady Venus, and to his entire barony as well, except 
False Seeming alone, because he always goes congregating with 
those proud criminals, those dangerous hypocrites of whom Scrip- 
ture says that they are pseudoprophets. And I consider Abstinence 
very suspect of being proud and like False Seeming, however 
humble and charitable she seems. 

“If False Seeming is found any more with such proved traitors, 
may neither he nor his friend Abstinence take part in my salvation. 
Such people are very much to be feared. If Love had not known 
certainly that they were so necessary to him that he could do 
nothing without them, he should have shoved them out of his 
army if it pleased him. But if there are advocates to lessen their 
wickedness in the case for pure lovers, I pardon them their fraud. 

“Go, my friend, to the God of Love, carrying my complaints 
and outcries, not so that he may do me justice but so that he may 
take comfort and solace when he hears this news, which should 
be very pleasing to him and harmful to our enemies, and so that 
he may cease to be troubled by the worry that I see him occupied 
with. Tell him that I send you there to excommunicate all those 
who want to work against us, and that I send you to absolve the 
valiant ones who work with good heart to follow strictly the rules 
that are written in my book, those stalwarts who strive mightily 
to multiply their lines and who think about loving well. I must call 
them all my friends and give delights to their souls. But they are 
to guard themselves well against the vices that I have told you 
about before, for they destroy all goodness. Give them a pardon 
that is fully effective, not for ten years, for they would not think 
it worth a penny, but a full pardon forever for everything that 
they have done when they know fully how to confess their sins. 

“When you come into the army, where you will be held very 
dear, and after you have greeted them for me as you know how, 




320 The Overthrow of Treason 

announce in their hearing the pardon and judgment that I wish to 
be written here.” 

19406 Then he wrote it at her dictation, and afterward she sealed it, 
gave it to him, and begged him to go off immediately as long as 
she might be absolved for what had been taken off her mind. 

1 941 1 As soon as the goddess Lady Nature had confessed, then straight- 
way, as law and custom wish it, the valiant priest Genius ab- 
solved her and gave her a penance that was suitable and good, 
one that accorded with the magnitude of the fault that he thought 
she had committed. He enjoined her to remain within her forge 
and labor as she was accustomed to do when she had no sorrow ; he 
told her always to perform her service in this way until the King 
who can arrange everything and make and destroy everything 
might give some other counsel. 

19427 “Sir,” she said, “I will do so willingly.” 

“And meanwhile,” said Genius, “I will go off very quickly to 
bring help to pure lovers. But first I will take off this silk chasuble, 
this alb and surplice.” 

19434 Then he went to hang everything on a hook and dressed in his 
less cumbersome worldly clothing, as if he were going off to a 
carol. He then took wings for immediate flight. 



Nature remained in her forge, took her hammers and struck 
out and shaped everything as she had done before, while Genius, 
with no more delay, beat his* wings faster than the wind. He came 
quickly to the army, but did not find False Seeming there. He 
had left in a hurry as soon as the Old Woman was captured, the 
one who opened the door of the enclosure for me and helped me 
advance to the point where I was allowed to speak to Fair Wel- 
coming; he had not wanted to wait any longer, but had fled with- 
out asking leave. There is no question, however, that Genius found 
Constrained Abstinence, who, when she saw the priest coming, got 
ready with all her might to run after False Seeming in such 
great haste that she could hardly be held back; for, provided that 
no one else saw her who would give her four bezants, she would 
not have taken up with the priest unless False Seeming were there. 

At that same time, Genius, with no more delay, greeted them 
all as he was supposed to and, forgetting nothing, told them the 
reason for his coming. I shall not try to make a story out of the 
great joy that they showed when they heard this news; instead I 
want to shorten my account and lighten your ears; many times, 
when a preacher does not dispatch briefly, he makes his audience 
leave by being too prolix in his speaking. 

Straightway the God of Love put a chasuble on Genius. He 
gave him a ring, a crosier, and a mitre clearer than crystal or glass. 
They had so great a desire to hear his judgment read that they 
sought no other preparation. Venus, who was so delighted and gay 
that she could not stop laughing, could not keep quiet. In Genius’s 
hand she placed a burning torch, not of virgin wax, the more to 
enforce his anathema when he would have finished his theme. 

Without taking any more time, Genius then mounted a large 
platform, the better to read the text, according to the things told 
about before. The barons sat on the ground and didn’t want to seek 
any other seats. Genius unfolded the charter, made a sign with 




1 949 1 

I 95°5 



322 The Overthrow of Treason 

his hand all around him, and called for silence. Those whom his 
words pleased looked at and nudged one another. Then they 
quieted down immediately and listened while the definitive sen- 
tence began: 

“By the authority of Nature, who has the care of the whole 
world, as vicar and constable of the eternal emperor, who sits 
in the sovereign tower of the noble city of the world, of which he 
made Nature the minister ; Nature who administers all good things 
through the influence of the stars, for they ordain everything 
according to the imperial justice that Nature executes ; Nature, 
who has given birth to all things since this world came into being, 
who gives them their allotted time for growth and increase, and 
who never for nothing made anything under the heaven that con- 
tinues without delay to turn around the earth, as high below as 
above, and never stops, night or day, but turns always without 
rest — by the authority of Nature, let all those disloyal apostates, of 
high rank or low, who hold in despite the acts by which Nature is 
supported, be excommunicated and condemned without any delay. 
And let him who strives with all his force to maintain Nature, 
who struggles to love well, without any base thought, but with 
lawful labor, go off to paradise decked with flowers. As long as he 
makes a good confession, I will take on me all his deeds with such 
power as I can bring to them, and he will never have to bear the 
smallest pardon for them. 

“It was an evil hour when Nature, in accordance with her laws 
and customs, gave to those false ones of whom I have been speak- 
ing their styluses and tablets, hammers and anvils, the plowshares 
with good sharp points for the use of their plows, and the fallow 
fields, not stony but rich and verdurous, that need to be plowed 
and dug deep if one wants to enjoy them; it is an evil hour when 
they do not want to labor at serving and honoring Nature, but 
wish rather to destroy her by preferring to flee from her anvils, 
her tablets and fallow fields, which she made so precious and so 
dear in order to continue things so that Death might not kill them. 

“These disloyal creatures of whom I tell should be greatly 
ashamed when they do not deign to put their hands to the tablets 
to write a letter or make a mark that shows. The tablets have a 
very cruel future, since they will become all rusty if they are kept 
idle. Now that they let the anvils perish without striking a blow 

Qenius's Solution 323 

with the hammer, the rust can bring them down, and no one will 
hear them hammered or beaten. If no one thrusts the plowshare 
into the fallow fields, they will remain fallow. These people might 
as well be buried alive when they dare to flee from the tools that 
God shaped with his hand when he gave them to my lady. He 
wanted to give them to her so that she would know how to fashion 
similar ones in order to give eternal existence to creatures subject 
to corruption. 

“It seems certain that these disloyal creatures work great evil, 
because if all men together wished to avoid their tools for sixty 
years, men would never engender. If this situation is pleasing to 
God, then he certainly wants the world to fail or the lands to re- 
main bare, peopled with dumb animals, unless he made new men, 
if it pleased him to make them again, or revived the others to 
repopulate the earth. Then if these people kept themselves virgin 
for sixty years, they would perish again, so that, if God should 
please, he would always have to make them again. 

“And if there were anyone who wanted to say that God in his 
grace took the desire away from one and not from another, then, 
since his renown is so great and he has never ceased to do good, 
it should be pleasing to him to create everyone the same, so that 
he might put such grace in them. Thus I come back to my con- 
clusion that everything would go to perdition. I do not know 
how to reply to this position, unless faith wants to explain belief. 
At their beginnings, God loves all equally and gives reasonable 
souls to men as well as to women. And I believe that he would 
want each soul, not only one, to keep to the best road, the one by 
which it might most quickly come to him. If then God wants some 
to live as virgins in order to follow him better, why will he not 
wish it for others? What reason will deter him? It seems then that 
it wouldn’t matter to him if engendering were to cease. Let him 
reply who wants to; I know nothing more of the matter. Let 
divines come who may divine the subject in endless divination. 

“But those who do not write with their styluses, by which mortals 
live forever, on the beautiful precious tablets that Nature did not 
prepare for them to leave idle, but instead loaned to them in order 
that everyone might be a writer and that we all, men and women, 
might live; those who receive the two hammers and do not forge 
with them as they justly should on the straight anvil; those who are 






1 97 ° 1 

324 The Overthrow of Treason 

so blinded by their sins, by the pride that takes them off their 
road, so that they despise the straight furrow of the beautiful, 
fecund field and like unhappy creatures go off to plow in desert 
land where their seeding goes to waste ; those who will never keep 
to the straight track, but instead go overturning the plow, who con- 
firm their evil rules by abnormal exceptions when they want to 
follow Orpheus (he did not know how to plow or write or forge 
in the true forge — may he be hanged by the throat! — when he 
showed himself so evil toward Nature by contriving such rules 
for them) ; those who despise such a mistress when they read her 
rules backward and do not want to take them by the good end in 
order to understand their true sense, but instead pervert what is 
written when they come to read it; since all these want to be of that 
party, may they, in addition to the excommunication that sends 
them all to damnation, suffer, before their death, the loss of their 
purse and testicles, the signs that they are male! May they lose 
the pendants on which the purse hangs! May they have the ham- 
mers that are attached within torn out! May their styluses be taken 
away from them when they have not wished to write within the 
precious tablets that were suitable for them! And if they don’t 
plow straight with their plows and shares, may they have their 
bones broken without their ever being mended! May all those 
who want to follow them live in great shame! May their dirty, 
horrible sin be sorrowful and painful to them; may it cause them 
to be beaten with sticks everywhere, so that one sees them as 
they are. 

“For God’s sake, my lords, you who live, take care not to fol- 
low such people. At the works of Nature, be quicker than any 
squirrel, lighter and more mobile than a bird or the wind may be. 
Do not lose this good pardon; provided that you work well at this, 
I pardon you all your sins. Move, skip, leap; don’t let yourself 
get cold or let your limbs become tepid. Put all your tools to 
work; he who works well keeps warm enough. 

“Plow, for God’s sake, my barons, plow and restore your 
lineages. Unless you think on plowing vigorously, there is nothing 
that can restore them. Tuck up your clothes in front, as though 
to take the air; or if you please, be quite bare, but don’t get too 
cold or too hot. With your two hands quite bare raise the guide- 
boards of your plows; support them stoutly with your arms and 

Qenius’s Solution 325 

exert yourself to push in stiffly with the plowshare in the straight 
path, the better to sink into the furrow. And for God’s sake never 
let the horses in front go slowly; spur them harshly, and when 
you want to plow more deeply give them the greatest blows that 
you can ever give. Couple horned oxen to the plow yokes, and 
wake them up with goads. Then we will receive you with our 
benefits. If you spur them well and often, you will necessarily 
plow better. 

“And when you have plowed so much that you are tired out 
and it comes to the point where you have to rest — for nothing 
can last long without rest — you will not be able to begin again im- 
mediately to advance the job farther; but do not let your de- 
sire flag. 

“Cadmus, at a word from lady Pallas, plowed more than an 
arpent of ground and sowed the teeth of a serpent. From these, 
armed knights sprang up and fought one another until they all 
died on the spot except five who were his companions and wanted 
to give him help when he had to build the walls of Thebes, the 
city that he founded. With him they laid the stones and populated 
his city, one of great antiquity. This sowing of Cadmus was very 
good; he thus advanced his people. If you also begin well, you 
will advance your lines a great deal. 

“And you also have two very great advantages in saving your 
lines: if you don’t want to be the third, you have addled wits. 
You have only one difficulty; defend yourself vigorously. You 
are attacked from one direction. Three champions are very slack — 
and they well deserve to be beaten — if they cannot conquer the 

“If you do not know, there are three sisters, two of whom help 
you; only the third harms you, for she cuts short all lives. You 
should know that Cloto, who carries the spindle, and Lachesis, 
who draws out the thread, are of great comfort to you. But Atropos 
breaks and cuts off whatever these two can spin. Atropos seeks to 
trick you. If you don’t dig deep, she will bury your whole race, 
and she goes around spying on you yourself. We have never seen 
a worse animal, nor do you have a greater enemy. My lords, thank 
you, thank you, my lords. Remember your good fathers and your 
old mothers. Conform your deeds to theirs, and take care that 
you do not degenerate. What did they do? Pay good heed to it. 








326 The Overthrow of Treason 

If you consider their prowess, you see that they defended them- 
selves so well that they have given you this existence. If it weren’t 
for their chivalry, you would not be alive now. They had great 
compassion for you. With love and amity think of the others who 
will come and who will maintain your line. 

“Don’t let yourselves be overcome. You have styluses; think 
about writing. Don’t leave your arms in muffs; hammer away, use 
forge and bellows; help Cloto and Lachesis so that if Atropos, 
who is so villainous, cuts six threads, a dozen more may spring 
from them. Think about multiplying yourself, and you will thus 
be able to trick the cruel, unyielding Atropos, who hinders every- 

“This miserable wretch, who strives against lives and whose 
heart is so full of joy over deaths, nourishes the knave Cerberus. 
He craves their deaths so much that he quite fries in lechery 
over it; if the wench had not helped him he would have died of 
raging hunger, for, if she had not done so, he could never have 
found anyone who could. She does not stop feeding him, and in 
order to feed him pleasantly, she hangs the cur at her breasts, 
which are triple, not double; he hides his three snouts in her 
breasts and butts and pulls and sucks on them. He never was 
weaned and never will be. He never asks to be given any other 
milk to drink, nor to be fed on any other meat except bodies and 
souls alone. And she throws men and women by mounds into his 
triple gullet. She feeds it all alone, and she always thinks that she 
can fill it; but she always, no matter how much she tries to fill it, 
finds it empty. The three cruel pursurers, the avengers of crimes, 
Alecto, Thesiphone — for I have the name of each — and the third, 
whose name is Megara, are all in great torment over Atropos’s 
food. Megara alone will eat you all, if she can. 

“These three await you in hell. There, before the three provosts 
therein, sitting in full consistory, they bind those who committed 
crimes when they had life in their bodies, and beat them, switch 
them, hang them; they strike them, rain blows on them, skin 
them, and stamp on them; they drown, burn, grill, and boil them. 
By means of these tortures, the provosts wring from them the 
confessions of all the wicked things that they ever did from the 
time that they were born. All people tremble before them, and I 
am a coward, it seems, if I dare not name these provosts here. 

Qenius's Solution 327 

They are Rhadamanthus and Minos, and the third, their brother 
i^Eacus. Jupiter was the father of these three. In the world these 
three had the reputation of being such worthy men and of main- 
taining justice so well that they became judges in hell. This was 
the reward that Pluto gave them 3 he was so eager for them that 
their souls left their bodies, and they filled the office of judge 
in hell. 

“For God’s sake, my lords, do not go there. Fight against the 
vices that Nature, our mistress, has just told me about today at 
my mass. She told me them all, and I never sat down afterward. 
You will find twenty-six of them, more harmful than you think. 
If you are indeed empty of the filth of all these vices, you will 
never enter the enclosures of the three wenches I named before, 
who have such evil reputations, and you will not fear the judg- 
ments of the provosts filled with condemnation. I would tell these 
vices to you, but to do so would be an excessive undertaking. The 
lovely Romance of the Rose explains them to you quite briefly 3 
please look at them there so that you may guard against them 

“Think of leading a good life 3 let each man embrace his sweet- 
heart and each woman her lover and kiss and feast and comfort 
him. If you love each other loyally you should never be blamed 
for doing so. And when you have played enough, as I have recom- 
mended here, think of confessing yourselves well, in order to do 
good and avoid evil, and call upon the heavenly God whom 
Nature calls her master. He will save you in the end, when 
Atropos buries you. He is the salvation of body and soul and the 
beautiful mirror of my lady, who would never know anything 
if she did not have this beautiful mirror. It is he who governs 
and rules her, and my lady has no other rule. He taught her 
whatever she knows when he took her for his chamberlain. 

“Now, my lords, I wish, and my lady also orders that each 
of you take in this sermon, word for word, just as I preach it. 
One does not always have one’s book and it is a great trouble to 
write down. Take it in so that you retain it by heart and are able 
to recite it, in whatever place you come to, fortresses, castles, cities, 
and towns, winter and summer, to those who were not here. It is a 
good thing to remember the lecture when it comes from a good 
school, and a better thing to tell it again 3 as a result, one may 




328 The Overthrow of Treason 

rise in the esteem of others. My lecture is full of great virtue, a 
hundred times more precious than sapphires, red rubies or pink 
ones. Fair lords, my lady, for her law, needs preachers to chastise 
the sinners who transgress her rules when they should maintain and 
keep them. 

1 993 1 “And if you preach in this way, upon my word and promise 
and as long as your deeds accord with your words, you will never 
be prevented from entering the park of the lovely field where the 
son of the virgin ewe in all his white fleece leads his flock with 
him, leaping over the grass. They follow after him, not in a crowd, 
but in a scattered company, along the narrow calm path that is so 
little traveled and beaten down that it is covered with flowers 
and grass. The little white ewes, good-natured and open, go along 
grazing and eating on the young grass and flowers that spring up 
there. But you must know that they have a pasture of such a 
wondrous nature that the delightful little flowers that spring up 
fresh and clean, all in their spring maidenhood, are as young and 
new as stars winking through the green grass in the morning dew. 
Throughout the whole day they keep their own early beauty, their 
pure colors, fresh and live, and in the evening they are not aged, 
but can be gathered the same then as in the morning, if anyone 
wants to put out his hand to collect them. You may know for cer- 
tain that they are neither too closed nor too open, but shine through 
the grass at the best stage of their growth. For the sun shining 
therein is not harmful to them and does not consume the dew with 
which they are sprinkled; it so sweetens their roots that it keeps 
the flowers always in pure beauty. 

19975 “I tell you too that no matter how much of the grass and 
flowers the little sheep can nibble and eat, for they will always 
want to eat them, they cannot eat as much as they will always see 
spring up again. I tell you further, and don’t think it a fable, 
that the flowers and grass cannot decay no matter how much the 
sheep graze on them. And their pastures cost the sheep nothing, 
for their skins are not sold at the end, nor their fleeces used up to 
make woolen cloth or coverings for people strange to them. They 
will never be taken away, nor will their flesh be eaten in the end, 
or decay or rot or be overtaken by disease. But certainly, whatever 
I say, I do not doubt that the Good Shepherd, who leads them 
grazing before him, may be clothed in their wool; but he neither 

Qenius’s Solution 3 29 

skins them nor plucks from them anything that costs them the 
price of one feather. But it pleases and seems good to him that 
his robe resemble theirs. 

“I will say more, but not to bore you: they never saw night 
born. They have only one day with no approach whatever toward 
evening, and morning cannot begin there, no matter how far the 
dawn can advance. Evening is like morning, and morning re- 
sembles evening. I tell you the same thing about every hour. 
The day dwells forever in a moment and cannot darken, however 
much the night may struggle against it. It has no temporal measure, 
the day that is so fair, that lasts forever and smiles with present 
brightness. It has neither future nor past, for, if I sense the truth 
well, all three times are present there, and the present encompasses 
the day. But it is not a present that passes away, in part, to form an 
end, nor of which part is still to come; for past was never present 
there. Moreover, I say to you, the future is of such stable perma- 
nence that it will never have presence. For the shining sun always 
appears and establishes the day at a certain point such that no man 
ever lived in an eternal spring so beautiful and so pure, not even 
when Saturn reigned as ruler over the ages of gold. His son 
Jupiter did him a great outrage and injury when he cut off his 

“But certainly, if we tell the truth, anyone who castrates a 
worthy man does him a very great shame and injury; for, even 
though I may say nothing about his great shame and discomfort, 
still anyone who takes away a man’s testicles robs him at least, 

I have no doubt at all, of the love of his sweetheart, no matter how 
closely she was bound to him. Or if he is perhaps married his affairs 
will go so badly that he will lose the love of his loyal wife, no 
matter how good-natured she was. It is a great sin to castrate a man. 
Anyone who castrates a man robs him not just of his testicles, nor 
of his sweetheart whom he holds very dear and whose fair face 
he will never see, nor of his wife, for these are the least; he robs 
him especially of the boldness in human ways that should exist in 
valiant men. For we are certain that castrated men are perverse and 
malicious cowards because they have the ways of women. Certainly 
no eunuch has any bravery whatever in him, unless perhaps in some 
vice, to do something very malicious. All women are very bold at 
doing deeds of great devilishness, and eunuchs resemble them in 






20 I 0 1 

201 15 

330 The Overthrow of Treason 

this respect. In particular, the castrator, even though he may not be 
a murderer or a thief nor have committed any mortal sin, at least 
he has sinned to the extent of doing Nature a great wrong in steal- 
ing the power of engendering. No one, no matter how well he had 
thought about it, could excuse him for his act ; at least I couldn’t, 
for if I thought about it and told the truth, I could wear out my 
tongue before I could excuse the castrator for such a sin, such a 
wrong as he has committed toward Nature. 

“But whatever sin it may be, Jupiter made no point of it, pro- 
vided only that he succeeded in holding the ruling power in his 
hand. When he became king and was considered the lord of the 
world, he gave out his commandments, laws, and statutes, and 
immediately he had his proclamation called out openly in every- 
one’s hearing in order to teach them how to live. I will tell you 
the import of this proclamation: 

“ ‘ Jupiter, who rules the world, commands and establishes as a 
rule that each one think of living comfortably. If anyone knows 
of something which may please him, let him do it, if he can, in 
order to bring solace to his heart.’ 

“He did not preach anything else, but gave general permission 
that everyone individually might do whatever he himself saw 
to be delightful. As he said, delight is the best thing that can exist 
and the sovereign good in life; everyone should desire it. And in 
order that all might follow him and take their example for living 
from his acts, the gay Dan Jupiter, who valued delight so highly, 
did for his body whatever pleased it. 

“And as he who wrote the Bucolics says in the Georgies — for he 
found in Greek books how Jupiter acted — before Jupiter came 
there was no one who held a plow; no one had ever plowed, 
spaded, or cultivated a field. The simple people, peaceable and 
good, had never laid down boundaries. Together they sought for 
the good things that came at their wish. Jupiter commanded that 
the earth be parceled out, and he divided it into lots, but no man 
knew how to look for his portion. He put venom into snakes and 
raised malice so high that he taught wolves to ravin; he cut down 
the oaks with honey in them and stopped the brooks of wine. He 
grew so ingenious at tormenting people that he extinguished fire 
everywhere, and he was such a subtle deceiver that he made them 
search for it in rocks. He created various new arts: he named and 

Qenius's Solution 331 

numbered the stars, had snares, nets, and lime traps stretched to 
capture wild animals, and cried the first dogs after them, a thing 
no one had done before. With the malice that torments men he 
subdued the birds of prey. On battle sites he set up attacks by spar- 
row hawks on partridges and quail, he arranged tournaments in 
the clouds between goshawks, falcons, and cranes, and he made 
them return to the lure. To keep their favor, so that they would 
return to his hand, he fed them night and morning. Thus this 
young man made slaves of the cruel birds and put them into bond- 
age so that, like horrible ravishers, they were the enemies of the 
other, peaceable birds. He did so because he could not pursue 
them through the air, and he did not want to live without their 
flesh j he was so much a gourmand and was so fond of fowl that 
he wanted instead to eat them. He put ferrets into rabbits’ burrows 
to attack them and make them leap out into his nets. He was so 
fond of his body that he had the fish from the seas and rivers 
scaled, roasted, and skinned, and he made entirely new sauces of 
different kinds of spices and many herbs. 

“Thus have the arts sprung up, for all things are conquered by 
labor and hard poverty j through these things people exist in great 
care. For difficulties incite people’s ingenuity because of the pain 
that they find in them. Thus said Ovid, who, as he himself tells, 
had a great deal of good and ill, honor and shame, as long as he 
lived. In short, when Jupiter set out to take the earth, he intended 
nothing other than changing the state of the empire from good to 
ill and from ill to worse. He was a very lax manager. He dimin- 
ished the time of spring and divided the year into four parts, as it 
is divided now: summer, spring, autumn, and winter, the four 
different seasons that all used to be contained in spring. But Jupiter 
no longer wished it so. When he set himself up to rule, he de- 
stroyed the ages of gold and created the ages of silver. These after- 
ward were those of brass, for men did not then cease becoming 
worse, so close to evil did they want to draw. Now their estate 
has become so alien that the age of brass is changed to that of iron, 
and the gods of the halls that are forever dark and filthy are very 
happy, for they are jealous of men as long as they see them alive. 
They have the black sheep tied up in their stable, from which they 
will never be released, the sorrowful black sheep, worn out, 
wretched, mortally sick, who did not want to go along the path 




332 'The Overthrow of Treason 

that the white lamb offers, the path by which they would all have 
been freed, and their black fleeces made white, at the time when 
they took the large broad road by which they brought themselves 
to their dwelling there, in so plentiful a company that it occupied 
the whole road. 

20221 “But no beast that goes therein ever carries a fleece that is worth 
anything or from which one might make cloth, unless it is some 
awful hair shirt, sharper and more piercing, when it is next to the 
ribs, than a coat made of the hides of bristly hedgehogs would be. 
But anyone who wanted to card the wool of the white animals, 
soft and smooth and sleek, and make cloth of the fleece, provided 
that he had such an abundance of it, certainly emperors or kings — 
angels in fact, if they wore woolen clothing — would be dressed 
in it for festal occasions. Therefore, you may know that he who 
could have such robes would be very nobly dressed, and for this 
reason he should hold them especially dear, for there are very few 
such beasts. 

20243 “The shepherd who keeps the flock in this beautiful park is not 
stupid, and it is a fact that he would not allow any black animal 
to enter for any begging that it could do, so much does it please 
him to keep the white ones separate. They know their shepherd 
well, and for that reason go to shelter with him; and since he 
knows them well, they are the better received. 

20253 “And I tell you that the most compassionate, beautiful, and 
delightful of all these worthy animals is the leaping white lamb 
who by his work and his suffering leads the sheep to the park, for 
he knows that if one strays off and the wolf only sees her, the wolf 
who seeks no other thing than that she stray from the path of the 
lamb intent on leading them, then he will carry her off without a 
struggle and eat her alive, and nothing alive can keep him from 
doing so. 

20267 “My lords, this lamb awaits you, but we will say no more about 
him except to pray to God the father that, through his mother’s 
request, he grant that he may so guide the sheep that the wolf may 
not harm them and that you may not fail, because of sin, to go 
and play in that park that is very beautiful and delightful, redolent 
with grass, flowers, violets and roses, and all good things. If any- 
one wanted to draw a comparison between the lovely square gar- 
den, closed with the little barred wicket, where this lover saw the 

(jenius's Solution 333 

carol where Diversion dances with his people, and this fair park 
that I am describing, as wondrously fair as one could wish it, he 
would make a very great mistake if he did not draw the comparison 
as one would between a fable and the truth. Anyone who was in- 
side this park or who only cast his eye within would dare to swear 
safely that the garden was nothing in comparison with this en- 
closure. This is not built in a square, but is so round and care- 
fully made that no beryl or ball was ever so well rounded a shape. 
What do you want me to tell you? Let us speak of the things 
that the Lover saw at that time, both inside and outside, and in 
order not to tire ourselves, we will pass over them in a few words. 

“Outside the garden he saw ten ugly images called portraits. 
But if one sought outside this park one would find there the 
figures of hell and all the devils, most ugly and terrifying, all 
the faults and excesses that they commit in hell, their dwelling 
place, and one would find Cerberus, who keeps everything closed. 
One would find the whole earth, with its ancient riches and all 
earthly things. One would see the sea itself, all salt-water fish, all 
things of the sea, fresh waters, cloudy and clear, and the great 
and small things that are contained in fresh water. One would see 
the air and all its birds, the flies, butterflies, and everything that 
hums through the air. One would see the fire that entirely sur- 
rounds the possessions and dwellings of all the other elements. 
Then one would see all the stars, clear, shining, and beautiful, 
either wandering or fixed, attached in their spheres. Anyone there 
would see all these things, shut out from this fair park, as openly 
portrayed as if they appeared there themselves. 

“Now let us go back to the garden and speak of the things inside. 
The Lover said that he saw Diversion leading his farandole on 
the fresh grass, and his people with him, caroling on the sweet- 
smelling flowers. The young man said too that he saw plants, trees, 
animals, birds, brooks and springs babbling and singing over the 
gravel, and the fountain under the pine 5 and he boasts that since 
the time of Pepin there was not such a pine, and that the fountain 
was also filled with very great beauty. 

“For God’s sake, my lords, take care. If anyone looks at the 
truth, the things contained here are trifles and bagatelles. There is 
nothing here that can be stable ; whatever he saw is corruptible. 
He saw carols that will pass away; all those who dance them will 




334 The Overthrow of Treason 

disappear, and so will all the things that he saw enclosed therein. 
For when Cerberus’s nurse Atropos wants to use her power, and 
she uses it forever without getting tired, there is no human practice 
that can keep her from consuming everything. She refuses nothing ; 
from behind she spies on all, except the gods, if there are any, for 
certainly divine things are not subject to death. 

20369 “But now let us talk of the beautiful things that are enclosed 
in this lovely park. I shall speak of them in general, for I want to 
stop soon. If anyone wants a correct account, I cannot speak prop- 
erly of it, since no heart could conceive nor mouth of man tell of 
the great beauty and worth of the things that are contained in 
that place, the lovely games, the great joys, eternal and true, that 
the carolers who dwell in that enclosure experience. All who divert 
themselves therein possess all things that are delightful, true, and 
eternal. It is indeed right that it should be so, for all good things 
well forth from the same fountain, one that waters the entire en- 
closure; from its streams drink the animals who wish and deserve 
to enter there after they are separated from the black sheep. The 
fountain is so precious and health-giving, so beautiful and clear, 
clean and pure, that after they have drunk from it, they can never 
be thirsty, and they will live as they wish without sickness or death. 
They will enter the gates in good time, in good time they will see 
the lamb that they followed along the narrow path under the 
protection of the wise shepherd who wanted to harbor them with 
him. No man who could drink once of that fountain would die. 

20405 This is not the fountain beneath the tree, the one that the Lover 
saw in the rock of marble. One should scorn him when he praises 
that fountain. It is the perilous fountain, so bitter and poisonous 
that it killed the fair Narcissus when he looked at himself in it. 
The Lover himself is not ashamed to recognize its peril, but bears 
witness to it. He does not conceal its cruelty when he calls it the 
perilous mirror, and he says that when he looked at himself in it, 
he found himself so heavy and full of grief that many times there- 
after he sighed over it. You see what sweetness he feels in the 
water! God! What a good and pleasing fountain, where the well 
become sick! And how good it is to bend over and look at oneself 
in the water! 

20425 “He says that the fountain comes in great waves from two deep 
springs. But I know well that its springs and waters do not come 

Qenius’s Solution 335 

of itself. There is nothing about it that does not come to it from 

“Then he says also, since it never stops, that the fountain is 
brighter than pure silver. Now see what trifles he urges on you. 
In fact it is so cloudy and ugly that no one who puts his head there to 
look at himself sees a drop. They all struggle and go to great 
pains there in order not to know themselves at all. 

“At the bottom, he says, there are two crystals which the un- 
clouded sun causes to shine so brightly, when it throws its rays 
there, that he who watches them always sees half of the things 
that are enclosed in the garden; so bright and powerful are the 
crystals that if he wants to turn to the other side he can see the 
rest of the things in the garden. On the contrary, these stones are 
murky and cloudy. Why don’t they show everything together 
when the sun throws its beams at them? In faith, they cannot, it 
seems, because of the darkness that obscures them. They are so 
murky and dark that they cannot be effective by themselves for 
him who looks at himself therein, since they get their brightness 
from elsewhere. If the sun’s rays do not strike far enough to meet 
the crystals, they have no power to show anything. But the foun- 
tain that I am describing to you is as beautiful as one could wish. 
Now prick up your ears a little to hear me tell some wonderful 
things about it. 

“The fountain that I have spoken of, with its beauty and its 
usefulness as a cure for all tired-out animals, always rolls its de- 
licious waters, sweet, clear, and lively, from three fine springs. Each 
is so close to the other that they all form one, so that when you 
see them all, if you want to take the time to count them, you will 
find both one and three in them. You will never find four there, 
but always three and always one. Such is their common charac- 

“We have never seen such a fountain, for it issues from itself. 
Other fountains, issuing from alien veins, do not produce it. It 
runs all by itself and has no need of any other channel; it keeps 
to its living course, staying firmer than native rock. It needs no 
marble stone nor the covering of a tree, for the water, never ceas- 
ing, comes from a source so high that no tree can grow so tall that 
the height of the water is not greater. However, without fail, you 
see a little lowly olive tree on a slope, as if it were descending, and 








236 Tfhe Overthrow of Treason 

all the water passes away underneath it. When the little olive tree 
feels the fountain of which I tell, and when the fountain waters 
its roots with its sweet, pure waters, it takes such nourishment from 
it that it grows heavy with both leaves and fruit. It becomes so tall 
and broad that the pine he told you about never grew so tall from 
the earth, nor extended its branches so far, nor gave such beautiful 

“Standing erect, this olive extends its branches over the fountain. 
Thus it shades the fountain, and there the little animals hide in the 
coolness of the lovely shade and sip the sweet dews that the pleasant 
coolness spreads over the flowers and the tender grass. On the 
olive tree hangs a small scroll with little letters on it, saying to 
those who read them as they lie in the shade of the olive tree: 
‘Here runs the fountain of life beneath the leafy olive tree that 
bears the fruit of salvation.’ What pine is worth as much? 

“I say to you, and foolish people will hardly believe this and 
many will consider it a fable, that in this fountain there shines a 
carbuncle that is marvelous beyond all marvelous stones, com- 
pletely round and with three facets. It sits in the midst so tall 
that one sees it plainly glowing throughout the park. Neither wind 
nor rain nor cloud can deflect its rays, so beautiful and noble is it. 
Know too that the virtue of the stone is such that each facet is 
worth as much as the other two, such are their powers between 
them. Two are worth only that one, however beautiful each may 
be. No matter how well he can apply himself, no one can dis- 
tinguish the facets nor so join them by thinking that he may not 
find them separate. But no sun illumines it; it has a color so pure, 
so bright and shining, that the sun that brightens the twin crystals 
in the other water would be dark and murky beside it. In short, 
what should I tell you? No other sun shines within but this glowing 
carbuncle. This is the sun that they have within, a sun that abounds 
more in splendor than does any sun in the world. This sun sends 
night into exile, this creates the day that I said lasts eternally, with- 
out end and without beginning, maintaining itself spontaneously at 
a single point without passing a zodiacal sign, a degree, or mid- 
night or some other division into which time may be separated. 
It has such wondrous power that as soon as those who go there 
to see it bend toward it and see their faces mirrored in the water, 
they always, no matter where they may be, see all things in the 

Qenius's Solution 337 

park and understand them rightly, themselves as well. After they 
have seen themselves there, they become such wise masters that 
they will never be deceived by anything that can exist. 

“I will teach you about another wonder: the rays of that sun 
do not confuse or weaken or dazzle the eyes of those who look at 
them, but they strengthen, make joyful, and reinvigorate their 
sight by means of their beautiful clarity, full of temperate warmth 
that, by its wondrous worth, fills the whole park with the sweet 
odor that comes from it. And in order not to detain you too long, 
I want in a brief word to remind you that whoever saw the form 
and matter of the park could say that in former times Adam was 
not formed in so beautiful a paradise. 

“For God’s sake, my lords, how do the park and the garden 
seem to you together? Give in reasonable statements both acci- 
dents and substances; say by your loyalty which is of greater 
beauty, and consider which of the fountains gives out water of 
greater health, virtue, and purity. Judge the nature of the springs 
and say which have the greater virtue. Judge the precious stones, 
the pine, and the olive that covers the living fountain. If you give 
a just judgment in accordance with the evidence that I have read 
out to you, I stand by your judgment. For I say to you without 
flattery that I do not submit myself entirely to it; if you wanted 
to do wrong, to speak falsely or keep the truth silent, I do not 
seek to hide from you that I would appeal immediately elsewhere. 
In order to bring you the sooner to an agreement, I want briefly 
to recall, according to what I have told you, their great virtue and 
goodness. The other makes the living drunk with death, while this 
fountain makes the dead live again. 

“My lords, know for certain that if you act wisely and do what 
you should, you will drink from this fountain. And in order that 
you may retain all my instruction more easily — for a lesson given 
in a few words is more easily remembered — I want to go briefly 
over everything that you should do. 

“Think how to do honor to Nature; serve her by working well. 
If you get anything from someone else, give it back, if you know 
how, and if you cannot give back the good things that are spent 
or played away, have the good will to do so when you have bene- 
fits in plenty. Avoid killing; keep both hands and mouth clean. 
Be loyal and compassionate, and then you will go by the delectable 








338 T^he Overthrow of Treason 

fields, following the path of the lamb, living eternally to drink 
from the beautiful fountain that is so sweet and bright and health- 
ful that as soon as you drink its water you will never die but go in 
gladness, forever singing motets, conductuses, and chansonettes on 
the flowers among the green grass, as you carol beneath the olive 
tree. What do I see you chattering about here? It is right for me 
to sheath my flute, for beautiful songs often get boring. From now 
on I could keep you too long, and I want to finish my sermon to 
you at this point. Now here it will become apparent what you are 
to do when you are raised up on high to preach from the balcony. 55 

Genius preached to them thus, delighting and comforting them. 
Then he threw down his candle on the spot, and its smoky flame 
spread among everyone. There is no lady who might protect her- 
self from it, so well does Venus know how to spread it, and the 
wind caught it up so high that all living women have their bodies, 
their hearts, and their thoughts permeated with that odor. Love in 
turn spread the news that was read from the document so that 
no man of worth ever disagreed with the judgment. 

When Genius had read everything, the barons were moved with 
joy. As they said, they had never heard such a good sermon nor 
ever from the time that they were conceived had they had so 
great a pardon, or heard as well so just an excommunication. In 
order that they might not lose the pardon, they all sided with his 
sentence and replied immediately in lively tones: “Amen, amen 5 
fiat, fiat. 55 

As the matter was at that stage, there was no delay whatever 
thereafter. Everyone who liked the sermon noted it word for 
word in his heart, for it seemed to them very salutary because of 
the good, charitable pardon, and they heard it very willingly. 
Genius vanished so that no one knew what had become of him. 



Then more than twenty in the host cried out: “Now to the assault 
with no more delay, all who understand the meaning of this ser- 
mon! Our enemies are mightily discomfited.” Then all rose to 
their feet, ready to continue the war, to take everything and level 
it to the earth. 

Venus, ready for the assault, first demanded that the enemy 
surrender. And what did they do? Shame and Fear replied to her: 
Venus, said Shame, “that is clearly impossible. You will never 
set foot in here, not even if there were only me. I shall never fear.” 

When the goddess had heard Shame, she said, “Get out, you 
filthy slut. Where will it get you to resist me? You will see every- 
thing in a whirlwind if the castle is not surrendered to me. It will 
never be defended by you. You would defend it against us! By 
God s flesh, you will give it up or I will burn you alive like misera- 
ble prisoners. I will set fire to the whole enclosure and raze the 
towers and turrets. I’ll warm up your rump; I’ll burn the pillars, 
walls, and posts. Your moat will be filled with the wreckage of all 
your outworks; however high you erect them, I will lay them flat 
to the ground. And Fair Welcoming will let the rosebuds and 
roses be taken at will, one hour by sale, another hour by gift. No 
matter how proud you are, all will strike in there. Everyone, with 
no exception whatever, will be able to go in procession among the 
rosebushes and the roses when I have opened the enclosures. To 
trip up Jealousy I will lay the meadows and the pastures low 
everywhere, so greatly will I widen the passages. Everyone, lay 
or cleric, religious or secular, will there gather buds and roses 
without hindrance. No one can avoid it; all will perform their 
penance, but the methods will not be without difference: where 
some come secretly, others will be very open. Moreover, those 
who come secretly will be considered fine men, but the others will 


2071 I 



340 The Overthrow of Treason 

be defamed, called rioters and whoremongers, although their fault 
is smaller than that of others whom nobody blames. 

20765 “It is still true that some evil men (may God and Saint Peter 
of Rome confound them and their works! ) will pass up the roses 
to follow a worse course ; and the devil who so pricks them will 
give them a chaplet of nettles, for Genius, speaking for Nature, 
has put all of them under sentence, along with our other enemies, 
for their vile, filthy ways. 

20775 “And as for you, Shame, if I don’t trip you up, I hold my bow 
and my wits at little worth 5 and I shall never complain of anything 
but them. Certainly, Shame, I shall never love you nor your 
mother, Reason, who is so bitter toward lovers. Whoever would 
believe you and your mother would never love far amour” 

20783 Venus had no desire to say more, since this much satisfied her 
well. Then she drew herself up tall and seemed a woman in a 
towering rage. She drew the bow and engaged the brand, and, 
when she had well nocked it, brought the bow, no longer than a 
fathom, up to her ear and aimed, like a good archer, at a tiny 
narrow aperture which she saw hidden in the tower. This opening 
was not at the side, but in front, where Nature, by her great cun- 
ning, had placed it between two pillars. 

20797 These pillars were of very fine silver and supported, in place of 
a shrine, an image neither too tall nor too short, neither too fat 
nor too thin in any respect, but constructed, in measure, of arms, 
shoulders, and hands that erred in neither excess nor defect. The 
other parts were also very fine. But within there was a sanctuary, 
more fragrant than pomander, covered by a priceless cloth, the 
finest and richest between here and Constantinople. If anyone, 
using reason, were to draw a comparison between this and any 
other image, he could say that this image was to Pygmalion’s as a 
mouse is to a lion. 

20817 Pygmalion, a sculptor who worked in wood, stone, and metals, 
in bone, wax, and in all other materials suited to such a craft, 
wished to divert himself in producing a likeness that would prove 
his skill (for no one was better than he) and also gain him great 
renown. He therefore made an image of ivory and put into its 
production such attention that it was so pleasing, so exquisite, that 
it seemed as live as the most beautiful living creature. Neither 
Helen nor Lavinia, however well-formed, were of such perfect 

Venus's Conflagration ; Winning the T{ose 341 

complexion or development, nor did they have a tenth the beauty. 
When Pygmalion saw the image, he was amazed. He took no heed 
for himself, and lo, Love enmeshed him in his nets so securely 
that Pygmalion didn’t know what he was doing. He mourned to 
himself, but could not stanch his grief. 

“Alas! What am I doing?” he said. “Am I sleeping? I have 
many images that could not be priced, and I never fell in love 
with them, but I am badly tripped up by this one. She has deprived 
me of my wits. Alas! Where did this thought come from? How 
did the idea of such a love come about? I love an image that is 
deaf and mute, that neither stirs nor moves nor will ever show me 
grace. How did such a love wound me? There is no one who heard 
of it who should not be thunderstruck. I am the greatest fool in 
the world. What can I do in this situation? 

“Faith, if I loved a queen, I could at least hope for grace, since 
it is a possibility. But this love is so horrible that it doesn’t come 
from Nature. I am acting despicably in this case. Nature has a 
bad son in me; she disgraced herself when she made me. But I 
should not blame her because I love insanely, nor should I put 
the blame anywhere but on myself. Since my name was Pygmalion 
and I could walk on my own two feet, I have never heard such a 
love spoken of. But I do not love too foolishly, for, if writing does 
not lie, many have loved more dementedly. Didn’t Narcissus, 
long ago in the branched forest, when he thought to quench his 
thirst, fall in love with his own face in the clear, pure fountain? 
He was quite unable to defend himself and, according to the story, 
which is still well-remembered, he afterward died of his love. Thus 
I am in any case less of a fool, for, when I wish, I go to this image 
and take it, embrace it, and kiss it; I can thus better endure my 
torment. But Narcissus could not possess what he saw in the 

“Besides, many lovers in many countries have loved many ladies 
and served them as much as they could, without a single kiss from 
them, although they exerted themselves strenuously. Has Love 
treated me any better? No, for those lovers, however uncertain 
they may have felt, had in any case the hope of a kiss and other 
favor; but I am completely cut off from the delight expected by 
those who hope for the diversions of Love. When I want to ease 
myself, to embrace and to kiss, I find my love as rigid as a post 







2095 2 

342 The Overthrow of Treason 

and so very cold that my mouth is chilled when I touch her to 

kiss her. 

“Ah! I have spoken too rudely. I ask your grace, sweet friend, 
and beg that you will accept amends for my wrong, for as much 
as you deign to look sweetly upon me and to smile, this much, I 
think, should suffice me. Sweet looks and tender smiles are most 
delightful to lovers.” 

Then Pygmalion knelt, his face wet with tears, and offered his 
gage as amends to her. But she cared nothing for the gage; she 
neither heard nor understood anything, either of him or of his 
present. As a result, he feared that he was wasting his effort in 
loving such a thing. He didn’t know how to recover his heart, for 
Love had robbed him of his intelligence and wisdom, so that he 
was completely desolated. He didn’t know whether she was alive 
or dead. Softly he took her in his hands; he thought that she was 
like putty, that the flesh gave way under his touch, but it was 
only his hand which pressed her. 

Thus Pygmalion strove, but in his strife was neither peace nor 
truce. He could not remain in any one condition. He either loved 
or hated, laughed or cried; he was either happy or distressed, tor- 
mented or calm. He would dress the image in many ways, in 
dresses made with great skill of white cloths of soft wool, of 
linsey-woolsey, or of stuffs in green, blue, and dark colors that 
were fresh, pure, and clean. Many of the fabrics were lined with 
fine furs, ermine, squirrel, or costly gray fur. Then he would 
undress her and try the effect on her of a dress of silk, sendal, or 
melequin , of a moire in indigo, vermilion, yellow, or brown, of 
samite, variegated material, or camelot. Her countenance was so 
simple that a little angel would have been nothing beside her. 
At another time he would put a wimple on her, and a coverchief 
over both wimple and head. But he didn’t cover her face, for he 
did not want to follow the custom of the Saracens, who are so 
full of jealous rage that they veil the faces of their wives so that 
passersby will not see them when they walk along the roads. At 
another time his heart led him again to take off everything and put 
on head-ornaments of yellow, vermilion, green, and indigo, or of 
silk and gold with seed pearls. Then he would fasten the orna- 
ments with a very precious pin and place, on top of it, a delicate 
little crown with many precious stones in settings of squares with 

Venus's Conflagration; Winning the T^ose 343 

semicircular arcs on each of the four facets. Besides the settings, 
there were other tiny gems, too many to count, sown thick around 
the crown. And on her two little ears he hung two earclips with 
tiny gold pendants. To hold her collar he placed two gold clasps 
at her neck, and he put another in the middle of her chest and a 
girdle around her waist. But it was so very rich a girdle that no 
girl ever encircled herself with anything like it. At the girdle he 
hung a precious and expensive purse, and in it he put five stones 
chosen from the seashore, of the sort that girls use for play-ham- 
mers, when they find pretty, round ones. He gave careful atten- 
tion to dressing her feet. On each foot he put a shoe and a stocking 
cut off prettily at two fingers’ length from the pavement. He did 
not gratify her with a present of boots, for she was not born in 
Paris ; a boot is much too coarse for the footwear of so young a 
girl. Then, that she might be better dressed, he took a well-pointed 
needle of fine gold, threaded with gold thread, and sewed up her 
two sleeves so that they were snug. He brought her fresh flowers, 
the kind that pretty girls make chaplets of in the springtime; he 
brought balls and little birds and various novel little things that 
bring delight to young ladies. Out of the flowers he made chaplets, 
but not fashioned like any that you have seen, for he put his whole 
attention on them. He put gold rings on her fingers and said, like a 
fine, loyal husband: 

“Fair sweet one, I here take you as wife, and I become yours 
and you mine. May Hymen and Juno hear me and wish to be at 
our wedding. I seek for it neither clerk nor priest nor the mitres 
and crooks of prelates, for Hymen and Juno are the true gods 
of weddings.” 

Then in a loud, clear voice full of great gaiety, he sang, instead 
of the Mass, songs of the pretty secrets of love. He made his in- 
struments sound so that one might not hear God thundering. He 
had many kinds of instruments and, for playing them, hands more 
dextrous than Amphion of Thebes ever had. Pygmalion had 
harps, gigues, and rebecs, guitars and lutes, all chosen to give 
pleasure. Throughout his halls and chambers he had made his 
clocks chime by means of intricately contrived wheels that ran for- 
ever. He had excellent organs that could be carried in one hand 
while he himself worked the bellows and played as, with open 
mouth, he sang motet or triplum or tenor voice. Then he turned 




2102 1 

344 The Overthrow of Treason 

his attention to the cymbals, then took a fretel and fluted on it, then 
a pipe, and piped ; he took drum, flute, and tambourine, which he 
drummed, fluted, and struck ; he took citole , trumpet, and bagpipes 
and played on each of them, then on psaltery and viol; he took 
his musette, then worked away at the Cornish pipes. He danced 
various dances, the espngue , the sautelle , the balle , and kicked up 
his heels throughout the hall. He took the image by the hand and 
danced with her, but he had a great weight at his heart because 
she did not wish, for all his prayers and exhortations, to sing nor 
to respond. 

21059 Then he took her in his arms again and laid her down on his 
bed and embraced her and kissed her again and again, but the 
situation was not that of a good school, when two people kiss each 
other, and the kisses did not please the gods. 

21065 Thus the deceived Pygmalion, captive of his foolish thought 
and led on by his deaf image, fell into a suicidal madness. In every 
way he could he decked her out and adorned her — for he turned 
his attention entirely to serving her — nor did she appear less beau- 
tiful without clothes than when she was dressed. 

21073 At that time it happened that in that country they celebrated 
a feast on which many marvelous things occurred, and all the 
people came to the vigils of a temple that Venus had there. The 
young man, in great confidence that he might get counsel about his 
love, came to watch at the feast: he complained to the gods and 
bewailed the love which so tormented him. 

21083 “O fair gods,” he said, “if you are all-powerful, please hear 
my request. And you, Saint Venus, who are the lady of this temple, 
fill me with grace. For when Chastity is elevated, you are greatly 
angered, and I have deserved great punishment for having served 
her so long. But now, with no more delay, I repent and beg that 
you pardon me and, by your pity, your sweetness, and your friend- 
ship, grant me, on my promise to flee into banishment if I do not 
avoid Chastity from now on, that the beautiful one who has stolen 
my heart, who so truly resembles ivory, may become my loyal 
friend and may have the body, the soul, and the life of a woman. 
And if you hasten to grant this request and if I am ever found 
chaste, I consent that I may be hanged or chopped up into pieces, 
or that Cerberus, the porter of hell-gate, may swallow me alive and 

'Venus’s Conflagration ; Winning the Tfose 345 

pulverize me within his triple gorge or bind me with ropes or 
iron bands.” 

Venus, who heard the young man’s prayer, was overjoyed be- 
cause he was abandoning Chastity and striving to serve her as a 
truly repentant man, ready, in his penitence, to make his sweet- 
heart quite naked within his arms, if he might ever possess her 
alive. Straightway she sent a soul to the image, who became so 
beautiful a lady that no man in any country had ever met one so 
beautiful. Pygmalion, since he had made his request, stayed no 
longer in the temple but returned to his image in very great haste, 
for he could no longer wait to hold her and gaze on her. He ran 
in little bounds until he came to her. Although he knew nothing 
of the miracle, he had great confidence in the gods, and the closer 
view he got of her the more his heart burned and fried and grilled. 
Then he saw that she was a living body 3 he uncovered her naked 
flesh and saw her beautiful shining blond locks, rippling together 
like waves, he felt the bones and the veins all filled with blood, 
and he felt the pulse move and beat. He didn’t know if she were 
a lie or the truth. He drew back, not knowing what to do 3 he 
dared not draw near her for fear of being enchanted. 

“What is this?” he said. “Am I being tempted? Am I awake? 
No, not awake, but dreaming. But no one ever saw so lifelike a 
dream. Dream! In faith, I do not dream, but wake. Then where 
does this wonder come from? Is it a phantom or demon who has 
been put into my image?” 

Straightway the girl, beautiful and pleasing with her lovely 
blond hair, replied to him: 

“I am neither demon nor phantom, sweet friend, but your 
sweetheart, ready to receive your companionship and to offer you 
my love if it please you to receive such an offer.” 

When he heard for certain and saw the miracles manifested, he 
drew near to reassure himself. Since it was certain, he gave himself 
willingly to her as if he were entirely hers. They united them- 
selves to one another with promises of love and thanked each other 
for their love. There was no pleasure that they did not make for 
each other: they embraced one another in their great love and 
kissed each other as if they were two doves. Each loved and gave 
pleasure wholeheartedly to the other. Both of them returned 

21 109 

21 144 

21 151 

21 1 59 

346 The Overthrow of Treason 

thanks to the gods who had granted such a favor to them, espe- 
cially to Venus, who had aided them more than anyone. 

21 175 At last Pygmalion was happy. There was nothing to displease 
him, for she refused nothing that he might wish. If he raised ob- 
jections, she surrendered herself, reduced to her last argument ; if 
she commanded, he obeyed. For nothing would he refuse to accom- 
plish all her desires for her. At last, since she neither resisted nor 
complained, he could lie with his sweetheart. They played so well 
that she became pregnant with Paphus, whose fame gave the island 
of Paphos its name. From him was born King Cynaras, a good man 
except for one instance, whose happiness would have been com- 
plete if he had not been deceived by his daughter, the fair Myrrha, 
whom the old woman — may God confound her for having no fear 

21 195 of sin — brought to the king in his bed by night. The queen was at 
a feast and the king took the girl in haste, without knowing by 
any word that he was to lie with his daughter. It was a strange 
trick for the old woman to allow the king to lie with his daughter. 
After she brought them together, the beautiful Adonis was born 
of them and Myrrha was changed into a tree. Her father would 
have killed her if he had discovered the trick, but it could not 
happen so, for, when he had candles brought, she who was no 
longer a virgin escaped in swift flight, since otherwise he would 
have destroyed her. But all this is very far from my matter, and I 
must draw back from it. By the time you have finished this work 
you will know what it means. 

21 21 5 But I won’t keep you any longer on this subject ; I should 
return to my story, since I must plow another field. Whoever, 
then, would wish to compare the beauties of these two images could, 
it seems to me, compare them by saying that as much as the mouse 
is smaller than the lion in body, strength, and worth, and less 
to be feared, so much was the one image less beautiful than that 
which I here esteem so greatly. 

21228 Dame Cypris looked well upon the image which I have de- 
scribed, the one placed between the pillars, within the tower, right 
in the middle. Never yet have I seen a place where I would so 
gladly gaze, even go down on my knees to adore. For no archer, 
bow, nor brand would I have relinquished the sanctuary and its 
aperture and the right to enter there at my pleasure. At least I 
would do everything in my power, whatever end I might come 

Venus's Q onflagration ; Winning the T^ose 347 

to, if I could find someone who might offer it to me or, if nothing 
more, might allow me there. For I am dedicated by God to the 
relics of which you have heard and which I shall seek out, equipped 
with sack and staff, as soon as I find time and place. May God keep 
me from being tricked or prevented in any way in my enjoyment 
of the rose. 

Venus waited no longer: she let fly the feathered brand, covered 
with burning fire, to bring panic to those in the castle. But so 
subtly did Venus launch it that no man nor woman of them, how- 
ever long they might have looked, had the power to see it. 

When the brand had flown, those in the tower fell into panic. 
Fire blazed out in the whole area, and they had to acknowledge 
their capture. They all cried out: “Betrayed? Betrayed? All dead! 
Woe! Woe! Let us fly the country.” Each threw down his keys 
where he was. When Resistance, the vile devil, felt himself burned, 
he fled faster than a stag over a heath. Nor did anyone wait for 
another j each one, with his clothes pulled up to his middle, thought 
only of flight. Fear fled, and Shame shot forth ; flaming, all left 
the castle. From that moment no one wanted to put to the test 
what Reason had taught them. 

At this point Courtesy came forth. When the noble, the beautiful 
lady of high esteem saw the rout, she came out into the fray, with 
Pity and Openness, to take her son away from the fire. They did 
not abandon Fair Welcoming to the flames 5 they stopped at noth- 
ing till they came to him. Courtesy spoke to him first, for she was 
not slow to speak out. 

“Fair son, I have been full of sorrow and grief of heart because 
you have been held in prison. May evil fire and flame burn him 
who put you into such confinement. But now that Foul Mouth the 
slanderer, along with his Norman drunkards, lies dead in the 
moat, you are, thank God, delivered. He can neither see nor hear. 
Jealousy is not to be feared. One should not, on Jealousy’s account, 
neglect to lead a happy life or to comfort one’s lover in private, 
especially when it comes to the point where one can neither hear 
nor see anything. There is no one who might tell her, and she 
hasn’t the power to find you here. The others, too, those pre- 
sumptuous oppressors, have lost heart and fled into exile. The field 
is completely cleared. 

“O sweet lovely son, for the grace of God, don’t let yourself be 

21 25 1 





348 The Overthrow of Treason 

burned here. In true friendship we beg you, I and Openness and 
Pity, to grant this loyal lover, this free spirit who has long suffered 
for you and who has never played you false nor tricked you, that 
his lot may be better through your efforts. Receive him and what- 
ever he has 3 indeed, he even offers you his soul. For the love of 
God, sweet son, do not refuse his offer, but rather receive it by 
the faith you owe me and by Love who impels it and who has 
given it such great power. 

21327 “O fair son, Love conquers everything 3 everything is held in 
by his key. Even Virgil confirms this idea in a powerful and courtly 
saying. When you look through the Bucolics you will find that 
‘Love conquers all 5 and that ‘we should welcome it. 5 Indeed, he 
spoke well and truly when he tells us all this in a single line 3 
he could not tell a better tale. My fair son, rescue this lover so 
that God may rescue both. Grant him the gift of the rose. 55 

21340 “Lady, I grant it to him , 55 said Fair Welcoming, “very will- 
ingly. He may pluck it while only we two are here. I ought to have 
received him long ago, for I see that he loves without guile . 55 

21346 I gave him a hundred thousand thanks for his gift, and straight- 
way after that delicious boon, I set out like a good pilgrim, im- 
patient, fervent, and wholehearted, like a pure lover, on the 
voyage toward the aperture, the goal of my pilgrimage. And I 
carried with me, by great effort, the sack and the staff so stiff and 
strong that it didn’t need to be shod with iron for traveling and 
wandering. The sack was well-made, of a supple skin without seam. 
You should know that it was not empty: Nature, who gave it to 
me, had cleverly forged two hammers with great care at the 
same time that she first designed it. No man, it seems to me, works 
as diligently and in so coordinated a way 3 she knew better how 
to work than Daedalus ever did. And I believe that she made them 
because she planned that I would shoe my horses when I went 
wandering, as indeed I shall do if I may have the possibility, for, 
thank God, I know how to forge. I tell you truly that I count my 
two hammers and my sack dearer than my citole or my harp. 

21377 Nature did me a great honor when she equipped me with this 
armor and so taught me its use that she made me a good and wise 
workman. She herself had made me the gift of the staff and wished 
to put hand to its polishing before I was taught to read. But it 
wasn’t important to shoe it with iron 3 it was worth none the less 

Venus's Conflagration ; Winning the T^ose 349 

without shoeing. And since I have received it, I have always had it 
near me, and have never since lost it. If I can, I shall never lose 
it 5 for I would not want to be deprived of it for five hundred 
times a hundred thousand pounds. She made me a fair gift of it, 
one to be cherished. I am supremely happy when I gaze on it, 
and when I feel it content and happy, I give her thanks for her 
present. Since then it has often comforted me in many places where 
I have carried it. It serves me well; and do you know how? When, 
in my travels, I find myself in a remote place, I put it into the 
ditches where I can see nothing, to see if they can be forded. That 
way, I can congratulate myself that there’s no delay to fear, so 
well do I know how to deal with the fords, to trust the banks 
and brooks. But again I find some so deep, with banks so far 
apart, that it would be less trouble to swim two leagues along the 
sea shore j even then I would be less tired than if I crossed so 
perilous a ford. I know; I have tried many great gulfs. True, I 
have come to no trouble, for if, after I had made ready to enter, 
I tested them and found them such that you couldn’t touch bottom 
with pole or oar, I went along on the outskirts and kept near the 
banks so that I was able to come out at the end. But if I had not 
had the arms and armor that Nature gave me, I would never have 
been able to get out. But let us leave these wide roads to those 
who travel them willingly, and let those of us who lead a light- 
hearted life keep gaily to the seductive bypaths, not the cart roads 
but the intriguing footpaths. 

Still, an old road is more profitable than a new path; you find 
more property there, and more to bring in further gain. Juvenal 
declares in fact that if a man wants to gain a great fortune he can 
take no shorter road than to take up with a rich old woman. If 
he takes up his servitude gladly, it propels him immediately into 
high station. Indeed, Ovid affirms, in a tried and weighty maxim, 
that he who wants to ally himself with an old woman can get a 
rich return. By trafficking thus he acquires great wealth straightway. 

But he who petitions an old woman must be careful not to do or 
say anything that might look like a ruse when he wants to steal 
her love or even to bring her honestly into the snares of Love. 
Those old women are hard to trap who have passed the time of 
youth when they were flattered, taken in, and tricked. When they 
were more often deceived, these fraudulent old tricksters see more 




35 ° T^he Overthrow of Treason 

readily through the sweet lies they hear than do those tender 
young girls who suspect no trap whatever when they listen to 
flatterers. In fact, they think that hypocrisy and guile are as true 
470 as gospel, for they have not yet been scalded. The wrinkled old 
cynics, however, malicious and cunning, are so well instructed in 
the art of fraud, the knowledge of which they have gained through 
time and experience, that they know what to do when the sweet- 
tongued talebearers come. These deceivers are those who detain 
the ladies with lies and drum into their ears their pleas for grace, 
who sigh and abase themselves, clasping their hands and crying 
out for favor, who bow down and kneel and flood everything with 
their tears, who cross themselves before their ladies so that they 
will have greater trust in them, who promise in sham their hearts, 
bodies, possessions, and services, who pledge themselves and swear 
by all the saints that ever were, are, or shall be, and go around 
thus, deceiving with words that are only wind. They operate just 
as the birdcatcher does. Like a thief, he hides in the thickets and 
spreads his net for the bird and calls him with sweet sounds to 
497 make him come to the snare so that he can be taken captive. The 
silly bird approaches but does not know how to reply to the sophism 
which has deceived him through a figure of speech, as the quail- 
catcher deceives the quail so that the bird may leap into the net: 
the quail listens to the sound, draws near, and throws himself into 
the net that the quailer has spread on the grass, fresh and thick 
in the springtime. But there is no old quail that longs to come to 
the quailer. She is scalded and beaten ; she has seen many nets 
before, from which, perhaps, she escaped when she should have 
been captured among the fresh grass. 

514 Just so, the old women I spoke of, those whose favors were 
implored and whose implorers trapped them, recognize the am- 
bushes from afar by the speeches that they hear and the faces they 
see put on. As a result, they entertain these tricks less trustingly. 
But if, indeed, the tricks are performed in earnest, to have the 
rewards of Love — if the petitioners are those who are taken in the 
same snare, the comfort of which is so pleasant and the burden so 
delightful that nothing is so agreeable to them as the heavy hope 
which so pleases and torments them — then the old women are very 
afraid of being hooked, and they listen and study to determine if 
they are being told truth or fables. They go around weighing each 

Venus's Conflagration ; Winning the T^ose 351 

word, so much do they fear the presence of fraud, because of those 
who have passed before and whose memory is still fresh. Every 
old woman thinks that everyone wants to deceive her. 

If it please you to incline your hearts to such a course in order 
to enrich yourselves more quickly or to discover delight there, you 
can indeed trace that road, to delight and comfort yourselves. 
And you who want the young girls will not be traduced by me on 
that score, however my master commands me — and all his com- 
mands are very beautiful. Indeed I tell you the truth, believe me 
who will, that it is good to try everything in order to take greater 
pleasure in one’s good fortune, just as does the good lover of 
luxury who is a connoisseur of tidbits and tastes of several foods — 
simmered, roasted, in a marinade, in a pasty, fried or in a galantine 

when he can go into a kitchen; he knows how to praise and to 
blame, to say which are sweet, which bitter, for he has tasted sev- 
eral. In this way know, and do not doubt, that he who has not tried 
evil will hardly ever know anything of the good, any more than 
will he who does not know the value of honor know how to recog- 
nize shame. No man knows what is easy if he has not experienced 
difficulty before, nor does he deserve to have his ease if he is not 
willing to accept his hardships; no one should offer comforts to 
anyone who does not know how to suffer. 

Thus things go by contraries; one is the gloss of the other. If 
one wants to define one of the pair, he must remember the other, 
or he will never, by any intention, assign a definition to it; for 
he who has no understanding of the two will never understand 
the difference between them, and without this difference no defini- 
tion that one may make can come to anything. 

It was my wish that, if I could bring my entire harness, just as 
I carried it, up to the harbor, I might touch it to the relics if I 
were allowed to bring it so close to them. And I had done so 
much and wandered so far, my staff entirely unprotected by ferrule, 
that, vigorous and agile, I knelt without delay between the two 
fair pillars, for I was very hungry to worship the lovely, adorable 
sanctuary with a devoted and pious heart. Everything had been 
razed by the fire, with which nothing can war, so that nothing 
remained standing except the unharmed sanctuary. I partly raised 
the curtain which covered the relics and approached the image to 
know the sanctuary more intimately. I kissed the image very de- 




352 The Overthrow of Treason 

voutly and then, to enter the sheath safely, wished to put my 
staff into the aperture, with the sack hanging behind. Indeed I 
thought that I could shoot it in at the first try, but it came back 
out. I replaced it, but to no avail; it still recoiled. By no effort 
could it enter there, for, I found, there was a paling in front, 
which I felt but could not see. It had formed the fortification of 
the aperture, close to its border, from the time when it was first 
built; it gave greater strength and security. 

21617 I had to assail it vigorously, throw myself against it often, often 
fail. If you had seen me jousting — and you would have had to 
take good care of yourself — you would have been reminded of 
Hercules when he wanted to dismember Cacus. He battered at his 
door three times, three times he hurled himself, three times fell 
back. His struggle and labor were so great that he had to sit down 
three times in the valley, completely spent, to regain his breath. 
I had worked so hard that I was covered with the sweat of anguish 
when I did not immediately break the paling, and I was indeed, 

21633 believe it, as worn out as Hercules, or even more. Nevertheless, 
I attacked so much that I discovered a narrow passage by which 
I thought I might pass beyond, but to do so I had to break the 
paling. By this path, narrow and small, where I sought passage, 
I broke down the paling with my staff and gained a place in the 
aperture. But I did not enter halfway; I was vexed at going no 
farther, but I hadn’t the power to go on. But I would have relaxed 
for nothing until the entire staff had entered, so I pressed it through 
with no delay. But the sack, with its pounding hammers, remained 
hanging outside; the passage was so narrow that I became greatly 

21655 distressed, for I had not freed any wide space. Indeed, if I knew 
the state of the passage, no one had ever passed there; I was abso- 
lutely the first. The place was still not common enough to collect 
tolls. I don’t know if, since then, it has done as much for others 
as it did for me, but I tell you indeed that I loved it so much that 
I could hardly believe, even if it were true, that the same favors 
had been given to others. No one lightly disbelieves what he loves, 
so dishonored would it be; but I still do not believe it. At least I 
know for certain that at that time it was not a well-worn, beaten 
path. Since there was no other place whatever where I might enter 
to gather the bud, I hurled myself through that path. 

21673 You shall know how I carried on until I took the bud at my 

Venus’s Conflagration; Winning the T^ose 353 

pleasure. You, my young lords, shall know both the deed and the 
manner, so that if, when the sweet season returns, the need arises 
for you to go gathering roses, either opened or closed, you may go 
so discreetly that you will not fail in your collecting. Do as you 
hear that I did, if you know no better how to come to your goal; 
for, if you can negotiate the passage better, more easily or deftly, 
without straining or tiring yourself, then do so in your way when 
you have learned mine. At least you will have the advantage that 
I am teaching you my method without taking any of your money, 
and for that you should feel grateful. 

Cramped as I was there, I had approached so near to the rose- 
bush that I could reach out my hands at will to take the bud from 
the branches. Fair Welcoming had begged me for God’s sake to 
commit no outrage, and, because he begged me often, I promised 
him firmly that I would never do anything except his will and 
mine. I seized the rosebush, fresher than any willow, by its branches, 
and when I could attach myself to it with both hands, I began 
very softly, without pricking myself, to shake the bud, since I had 
wanted it as undisturbed as possible. However, I could not help 
making the branches stir and shake, but I never destroyed any of 
them, for I wished to wound nothing, even though I had to cut a 
little into the bark; I did not know how otherwise to possess this 
gift, for which my desire was so strong. 

Finally, I scattered a little seed on the bud when I shook it, when 
I touched it within in order to pore over the petals. For the rosebud 
seemed so fair to me that I wanted to examine everything right 
down to the bottom. As a result, I so mixed the seeds that they 
could hardly be separated; and thus I made the whole tender 
rosebush widen and lengthen. All this I should not have done. 
But then I was quite certain that the sweet fellow who had no evil 
thought would bear me no ill will for it, and that he would agree 
to it and allow me to do whatever he knew might please me. He 
reminded me of the agreement and said that I was doing him a 
great wrong, that I was too unbridled; but he did not forbid me to 
take, to reveal and pluck the rosebush and branches, the flower and 
the leaf. 

When I saw myself raised to such high degree, an estate gained 
so nobly that my methods were not suspect, because I had been 
loyal and open toward all my benefactaors, as a good debtor 




354 The Overthrow of Treason 

should be — for I was very much bound to them, since through 
them I had become so rich that (I declare it as the truth) there 
was no wealth as rich — when I saw myself thus, I rendered thanks, 
among the delicious kisses, ten or twenty times, first to the God 
of Love and to Venus, who had aided me more than anyone, then 
to all the barons of the host, whose help I pray God never to take 
away from pure lovers. But I didn’t remember Reason, who gave 
me a lot of trouble for nothing. My curse on Riches, the shrew, 
who showed no pity when she refused me entry by the path which 
she guarded. She took no care of that path by which I entered, 
secretly and precipitantly, here within. My curse too on those 
mortal enemies who held me back so long, especially on Jealousy, 
crowned with her marigolds of solicitude, who protects the roses 
from lovers. She is still keeping a very good watch. 

21775 Before I stirred from that place where I should wish to remain 
forever, I plucked, with great delight, the flower from the leaves 
of the rosebush, and thus I have my red rose. Straightway it was 
day, and I awoke. 

CWofe5 io ifye 


THE notes provide a guide to the principal recent bodies of annotation 
and discussion and short comments on questions of interpretation and, 
occasionally, of translation. There is no attempt to provide full explana- 
tory notes; to indicate sources other than major ones or to refer to 
detailed parallels; to give more than summary reference for many 
lengthy passages of discussion in the works referred to; or to document 
the Romance s influence on subsequent writers. I have indicated, very 
briefly, a few passages that show some influence upon Chaucer, but even 
there I would refer the interested reader to Robinson’s notes for more 
detailed parallels. 

The headings of the notes refer to line numbers of the Langlois 
edition, indicated in this translation by marginal figures. The following 
abbreviations refer to works frequently cited: 

F Fleming 1969 

G Gunn 1952 

Lc Lecoy edition 1965- 

Ln Langlois edition 1914-24 
P Pare 1947 

R Robertson 1962 

T Tuve 1966 

Reference is to page except in the case of Ln and Lc, where it is to 
the line number of the note-heading unless otherwise specified. Full 
references may be found in the Bibliography. I have translated most of 
the quotations in foreign languages without further comment; where I 
have quoted a translation, that fact is noted, either implicitly through 
the bibliographical reference or explicitly in the note itself. 


1-1680 (Chapter 1) On the structure of the poem, see Introduc- 
tion; R 96-98, 196; Friedman 1965; F 99-103 and 'passim . Chapter 1 
establishes the allegorical dream-framework and the first stage in the 
process of the Lover’s involvement, the appeal to the senses, correspond- 
ing to the first of the traditional three stages of any sin: suggestion to 
sense, delight of the heart, consent of the reason. The emphasis in this 
chapter on sense imagery is thus central to the overall development. Cf. 
4377-88 and n. 

1-85 See G 95-98 on the rhetorical structure. 

1-20 On true and false dreams, cf. Virgil ( Aeneid , vi. 893-96) 
and Homer ( Odyssey , xix. 560-67). Chaucer, Rouse of Fame ( HF ), 

358 LN^otes 

1-65, speculates on the kinds of dreams and seems to echo some such 
dream classification as that of Macrobius (see below); cf. 18499-514. 
Robinson 1957, pp. 779-88, details other parallels to HF . Cf. also 
Nun’s Priest’s Tale, Canterbury Tales (CT), VII. 2922-41 ; Troilus 
and Criseyde , v. 358-85, 1275-88. 

1-2 Ln quotes parallels to the idea that dreams are empty false- 
hoods. But such dreams are only one of Macrobius’s five kinds. Cf. 
21780 n., 7-10 n. 

6- 7 Ln 

7- 10 Ln Lc; Dahlberg 1953, pp. 136-39; R 196-97. Ambrosius 
Theodosius Macrobius flourished in the late fourth and early fifth cen- 
turies, wrote the Commentarii in s omnium Scifionis and Saturnalia ; see 
Stahl 1952, pp. 5-9. The dream material comes from the Commentary , 

I. ii-iii. 

37-44 it is the Romance . . . should be called Rose: Guillaume 
immediately sets out to fulfill Macrobius’s concept of the somnium , or 
enigmatic dream, “one that conceals with strange shapes and veils with 
ambiguity the true meaning of the information being offered, and re- 
quires an interpretation for its understanding.” See 38 n., 44 n. 

38 in which the whole Art of Love is contained (Ou l’Art d’ Amors 
est toute enclose) : G 97, 143. “Art of Love” is an ambiguous phrase: 
‘complete method of seduction’ and ‘organized inquiry into all the kinds 
of love’ are two of the possible, complementary meanings. Note the 
ambiguous reference where in which (Ou) may have as antecedent 
either rose or Romance of the Rose. 

40-41 Ln 

44 On the ambiguities of the rose, see 895-96 n.; cf. R 95-96; 
T 233-34, 239, 242. 

45-63 Ln thinks that these lines influenced Rutebeuf in V oie de 
Paradis , 1-8. See the ed. of Faral and Bastin (1959-60, I, 341), who 
think that the influence is not proved. The important point is that 
similar spring openings are used in a poem of veiled allegory ( Romance ) 
and one of overt allegory {V oie) ; the pilgrimage motif is another com- 
mon feature, direct in the V oie , ironic in the Romance . Cf. 21347 n. 
Rutebeuf (fl. ca. 1250-80), wrote shortly before Jean de Meun, and 
they both supported Guillaume de Saint-Amour and the antimendicant 
faction at the University of Paris. See 1 1488 n. 

45-47 Cf. Chaucer, Book of the Duchess ( BD ), 291-92. Chaucer 
speaks directly of the Romance in lines 332-34. For further specific 
parallels with the BD , see Robinson’s notes (1957, pp. 773-78). 

59-66 On the robe of grass and flowers, Ln quotes Alanus de 
Insulis, De flanctu naturae , PL 210, cols. 447 D-448 A; subsequent 
references will be to De flanctu , col.—. 

76 enjoy themselves (se deduit) : Ln. The verb deduire is cognate 
with the proper noun Deduit , the name of the owner of the garden; 
see 590 n. 

fr(ptes 359 

78 Ln. On gardens, cf. 635-68 n. See also Robertson 1951; 
j 962, pp. 69-72, 91-93, 386-88, 421-22. Langlois notes that a four- 
teenth-century reader of MS Me (Paris, B. N. fr. 1560) calls atten- 
tion in a marginal note to the parallel with Matthew of Vendome’s 
description of a garden; the reader of that manuscript thus associates 
Guillaume’s garden with Cicero’s characterization of Verres as seduced 
to adultery by the beauties of Sicily’s landscape ( Ars versificatoria , 110- 
11, ed. Faral 1962, pp. 147-49); and this association would support 
Robertson’s understanding of the garden imagery. 

81 He has a very hard heart . . . May: A marginal note to this line 
in MS Paris, B. N. fr. 803 reads “pour le temps bel et douloeureux.” 
This reader s perception of the pain, where the text refers, overtly, only 
to the sweetness of the weather, shows a characteristically medieval 
mode of reading. Cf. 4279-358. 

90-98 Ln 

98 zigzag lacing (cousdre a videle) : Ln 

1 19 Ln quotes Hueline et Aiglentine , v. 7-10, which refers to a 
garden containing a fountain beneath a pine and a brook flowing there- 
from. Cf. lines 1425-38 ff. 

129-462 P 292. Cf. 20267-334, Figs. 2-10. See Kuhn 1913-14, 
pp. 50-58, on the relation between the MS illuminations and contem- 
porary representations of the Vices; Katzenellenbogen 1939 (1964); 
R 9 I_ 93 > 197 - 98 , Figs. 13, 56-58, 68, 70; F 31-34; Lewis 1936, pp. 
126-27. In general, the portraits represent not so much the qualities 
that would exclude a lover from the garden and its activities as at- 
tributes that are complementary to those represented within. Youth in 
the garden leads to Old Age without; Wealth leads to Poverty, Love 
to Hatred; Openness becomes mingled with dissembling (Pope-Holi- 
ness), and so on. Cf. 727-1284, 4293-334, 20933-34. 

132 Ln 

1 36-38 G 102-4 compares 691-700, 796-800, 2225-28, 2265-68, 
2 75 I " 55 ) 3797 " 99 > as examples of Guillaume’s “artistic prudence” in 
passages of summary; the list might be extended (e.g., 3499-510, 2057- 
76). It would be misleading to assume that Jean de Meun’s ability 
does not extend to such “careful indexing of the poem” (cf. 41 13-220, 
10526-678, I 5 I 33 " 3 02 > see G 2 1-28) , but it is clear that such passages 
are more complex in terms of scale and ironic method than are Guil- 

x 39 Ln 

1 39 “ 5 1 Guillaume’s use of Hatred for his first portrait may well 
suggest the state of discord that is characteristic of fallen man, the 
opposite of the harmony in the garden of Eden before the Fall. Far 
from suggesting anything more than a purely literal opposition between 
hatred and love, the figure suggests the close connection between the 
Hatred on the outside of the garden and the kind of love characteristic 
of the garden. Cf. Duhem 1913-59, 1, 76; R 243. 



152, 156 Ln 

156-68 The usual MS illustration for Villainy (not represented 
in the series reproduced here from B. N. fr. 37 ^) * s one most 

definite of the series and shows a seated female figure kicking the kneel- 
ing young man who offers her a vessel. Cf. R I 97 “ 9 ^> Figs. 5^> 7 °> 
Kuhn 1913-14, pp. 51-53. Katzenellenbogen 1964, p. 76, calls^the 
figure Malignitas; Male 1958, PP* I2 3 “ 2 5 > °P ts ^ or ingratitude or 
“hardness of heart.” The important point is that a vice-portrait from a 
standard theological cycle is used to illustrate the idea represented in 

the text. 

1^6 Villainy (Vilanie) : The Late Latin etymon villanus inhabitant 
of a farm’ accounts for the later meanings ‘peasant, boor, churl, base 
or lowborn fellow. 5 Although the Modern English derivatives villain 
(- y,-ous ) may sometimes be misleading (cf. 165, 736, 1209, 1 93 1_ 3 ^> 
6577-82), the highly pejorative nature of this important passage sug- 
gests that to retain villainy as a technical term, rather than to seek a 
more “precise 55 translation, may establish a clearer frame of allusion; 
here and at 2077-86 I retain the derivative. 

169-234 On the distinction between Avarice and Covetousness, 
cf. 9578: “The latter acquires [possessions] and the former locks them 

up.” Cf. Figs. 4, 5. 


205 Ln quotes parallels to “bread kneaded with . . . caustic. 

213 clothespole : Ln compares 8874, 13774 - The MS illustrations 
usually show the pole; see Fig. 5. ? 

235-90 Ln calls the portrait of Envy an enlargement of Ovid’s 
description of Pallor , Metamorphoses ( Met .), 11. 77 5 “ ^ 2 • Fleming 
1963, p. 106, notes Ln’s error: Pallor is a characteristic of I nvidia 
(Envy). Lc also notes the Ovidian source. On the iconography, see 
Fig. 6; R 207-8; F 33. 

246, 265-66, 274, 282, 283, 296-97, 298, 323, 324 Ln 

339-406 Old Age (Vieillece): Ln. On old-ness in general, see 
R 127-32, 379-82. Cf. the Old Woman (Chapter 7), who aids the 
Lover’s suit. Thus the portrait here represents only a superficial contrast 
to the “Youth” that enter the garden. She is the end result of “what- 
ever is begotten, born, and dies,” as the passage on Time reminds us. 
355, 357, 358 Ln 

361 ff. Time y who goes away . . . : See P 288 on the scholastic dis- 
tinction between time and eternity. 

363-81 Ln quotes specific parallels, which I omit, to Ovid, Ex 

Ponto , IV. ii. 42, and iv. viii; Fasti, VI. 77 1-7 2 ( not 7 IX “ I2 )i Ars 
amatoria , III. 62-64; Met., XV. 179-85, 234-36. 

371-72 for before . . . passed'. Lc numbers these lines 37^ a- b> 
they do not appear in his base MS, and he supplies them from a con- 
trol MS. In references to the Lc notes I shall use the Ln numbering; 
for conversion to Lc numbering, see Appendix. 



3 8 4 , 3 86 > 3 88 ? 396 Ln 

407-40 Pof>e- Holiness (Papelardie) : Cf. False Seeming, 10952- 
120 1 4, particularly 11524. Again we have a case of the close connec- 
tion between the portrait and the activity within the garden. See Fig. 9. 

414-15, 418 Ln 

436-37 as the Gosfel says . . . faces: Lc quotes the text, Matt. 6: 
16 (“And when you fast, be not as the hypocrites, sad. For they dis- 
figure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.”)* Guillaume 
de Saint-Amour was later to use this traditional text on hypocrisy in his 
antimendicant writings; cf. Resfonsiones , No. 10, ed. Faral 1951, p. 
343, where the Scriptural reference is used with the gloss to reinforce 
the idea that pride may be caused by humble clothing. 

441-62 Cf. 11245-54. On the connection between poverty and 
the activities of the garden, cf. 1017-1126, 10051-267 n. 

443 > 463, 4 8 5 j 506 Ln 

524 hornbeam (charme) : There may be a pun with charmes ‘en- 
chantments, spells’; cf. 9151, 13237. 

525-94 a very sweet and lovely girl . . . : On Idleness (Oiseuse), 
see R 92-93, 198, for a detailed literary pedigree which shows how 
“impossible” it is “to make Oiseuse an innocent forbear of modern 
‘leisure. 5 55 Cf. F 73-81. At 1 15 19-24 we see that idleness is a charac- 
teristic of False Seeming. 

53 °- 3 L 54 L 554 Ln 

555 chaflet ... of fresh roses: Cf. 895-96 n. 

557 ln her hand she held a mirror: The mirror and the implied 
comb of line 568 are the conventional attributes of the vice luxuria 
(lechery). See R 92-93, 95, 198; Kuhn 1913-14, pp. 25-27, Figs. 10- 
14. In the Angers tapestries, a fourteenth-century series on the Afoca- 
lyfse , the Whore of Babylon is pictured with the mirror and comb. 
See Planchenault (n.d.), PL 64. 

563-64 gloves . . . Ghent (ganz . . . Ganz) : In the Old French 
we have a case of identical rhyme, or rime riche , a common technique ; 
cf. P 81 on Jean’s use of such rhyme. Here the selection of the place- 
name may be due partly to iconography. F 76, 85-86 suggests that 
illustrators used the glove as an emblem of sexual cupidity — in one case, 
along with the mirror, as an attribute of the character Carnalite in the 
Roman de Fauvel (MS Paris, B. N. fr. 146, fol. 12, reproduced Kuhn 
1913-14, p. 27). Cf. 14694 n. 

582 Ln quotes Ovid, Remedia amoris , 139, on the idea that Idle- 
ness leads to love. See R 92-93, n. 69-70. 

5 8 3 Ln 

590 Diversion (Deduit) : Ln v, 335: “Divertissement personifie.” 
Two senses of diversion , ‘having a good time 5 and ‘turning away from 
a (right) course, 5 are implicit. The Chaucerian translation, ‘Sir Mirth, 5 
probably conveyed such overtones. 

592 Saracen land (la terre as Sarradins) : So Ln. Lc reads (follow- 

362 V^otes 

ing his base MS) la terre Alixandrins £ the territory of Alexander’s em- 
pire.’ In either case the trees are those of the infidel. 

607-8 Ln 

631-1614 P 292 

635-68 Believe me ... a melody : Ln quotes parallels in T ornoie- 
ment Antecrist , Image du Monde , Flamenca. On the locus amoenus 
‘pleasure grove’ or ‘garden,’ Lc cites Curtius 1948, pp. 200-205 ( 1 95 3 > 
pp. 195-200), who notes that “Peter Riga (d. 1209), makes the 
locus amoenus the theme of an entire poem” ( De ornatu mundi y PL 
1 7 1, cols. 1235-38) in which “the pleasure grove is the rose of the 
world. But it fades: turn ye to the heavenly rose” (1953, p. 198). Cf. 
78 n. F 55-73 explores the nature of Guillaume’s garden, particularly 
in its relation to Eden and the hortus conclusus of the Song of Songs, 
and gives a summary of the fifteenth-century interpretation in the 
prose gloss on the Echecs amour eux. 

643 See R 127-28 on the singing birds and their symbolic rela- 
tionship to the theme of love. 

663, 664, 667, 683 Ln 

691-700 See 136-38 n. 

71 1 Ln 

727-1284 The carol ( querole ) is a round-, or ring-, dance. The 
portraits of the characters form a general complement to those of the 
garden wall; see 129-462 n. On the significance of the portraits, see 
R 130 and Figs. 41-42; F 81-89 deals with the MS illustrations and 
with the origins of the carol in peasant life and the associations that 
help “to explain how the carol could easily become a figure or icon for 
sexual cupidity” (p. 83). F refers to Sahlin 1940 for the historical back- 

733 > 750-52 Ln 

796-800 See 136-38 n. 

809 Ln 

829-30 chaflet of roses : This attribute, which appears in Fig. 12, 
associates Diversion with other followers of Venus. See 895-96 n. 

856, 879 ff. Ln 

892 or any yellow , indigo , or white flower : Ln chose a reading 
other than that of Lc’s base MS, Paris, B. N. fr. 1573, which has two 
extra lines plus a slightly different reading of 892. The Lc text would 
read, in translation: “or any flower, black or white, yellow, indigo, or 
greenish-blue — any flower, no matter how varied.” See Appendix. 

895-96 chaflet of roses : Cf. Idleness’s chaplet, 555, as well as the 
later use of such a chaplet to gain “Fair Welcoming,” 12439 ff., and 
to adorn the young friends of Wealth on their way to the stews, 10 102. 
Cf. Wisdom, 2:6-8: “Come therefore, and let us enjoy the good 
things that are present, and let us speedily use the creatures as in youth. 
Let us fill ourselves with costly wine, and ointments: and let not the 
flower of the time pass by us. Let us crown ourselves with roses, before 

ZSQotes 363 

they be withered: let no meadow escape our riot” (the Douai chapter 
heading reads: “The vain reasonings of the wicked”) ; R 192, Fig. 59; 
F 174-75 identifies the rose-chaplet as an iconographical attribute of 
Idleness or of Venus. 

909 Ln quotes, Lc cites sources and parallels for the bows and 
arrows, in particular, Ovid, Met., 1. 468-71. 

916,921 Ln 

924-25, 935 ff. On the relationship between the five arrows and 
the five senses, see Dahlberg 1969, pp. 575-76; cf. 1693-95 n. The 
parallel tradition of the “five points of love” ( quinque lineae amoris : 
sight, conversation, touching, kissing, coitus ) is related in terms of sight, 
hearing, and touch. Ln quotes Carmina Burana on the five points, or 
steps; Lc notes the distinction from the five arrows of the Romance. 
Cf. Chaucer, Bars T, x. 852-62; Adler 1952; Curtius 1953, pp. 512- 
14; R 407, n. 26; Friedman 1965; Dronke 1965-66, 1. 49, 62; 11. 
488-89; F 100-102. 

976> 977 ) 1010, 1021, 1023, 1026 Ln 

I0 33 fower (dangier) : Cf. 2827 n. 

1045-47 an d decry those who are f raised . . . have denounced 
many good men\ Lc’s base MS omits the two lines, numbered 1045-46 
by Ln, which fall between 1044 and 1045 °f th e Lc numbering; they 
appear in his Variantes 11; see Appendix. A translation of the Lc text, 
1042-47: “But secretly their flatteries so pierce men to the bone that 
these flatterers, by their flattery, make many turn their backs, for they 
alienate from court those who should be intimate.” 

1069-83 Ln 

1093 Lc 

1097 jargons (jagonces) : a reader has kindly pointed out that these 
are the ordinary green or brown variety of zircon, distinct from the 
jacinth or hyacinth, the reddish-orange zircon. 

1 1 19, 1124, 1136-38 Ln 

1194 an Orleans nose : To judge from Ln’s note, a flat nose. 

1213, 1217-20, 1227 Ln 

1228 Windsor's lord : Ln. Perhaps King Arthur is meant. 

1236 excess (outrage): P 71-75 discusses other uses in the poem 
of the words outrage, outrageous, outreement , and relates them to the 
idea of the mean as the position of virtue. 

1241, 1258 Ln 

1279-88 G 101 

1308, 1312 Ln 

1323 Ln quotes extracts from the description of the garden in 
Floire et Blancheflor , which he had noted at 78 n. Cf. 635-68 n., 
119 n. 

1326, 1331-32, 1343, 1346, 1348, 1350 Ln 

1 369-74 The branches were long and high . . . one hour : Cf. 
20 479 “ 5 2 4 ; Robertson 1951, pp. 33, 41-42. 



i 393 > j 4o 8 Ln 

1425-1614 On Narcissus and the fountain, see P 293, R 93-95, 
F 89-96; cf. Frappier 1959, Kohler 1963, Goldin 1967* PP* 5 2 " 59 * 
Jean de Meun has his Pygmalion compare himself, favorably, with 
Narcissus; see 20876-88 and note. See Fig. 13. Several illustrations, 
including Fig. 59, show Narcissus as a knight, kneeling at the fountain, 
with his horse standing nearby; cf. MSS Paris, Arsenal 5 20 9 > 1 1 b; 

B. N. fr. 1 91 57, fol. 10 c. See also Ancona and Aeschliman 1949, 
PI. lxxx and p. 14 1. On the iconography of the horse, cf. 19787 n * 

1425-38 Cf. 1 19 n. 

1 433-34 Nature . . . under the fine : On the role of Nature, see 
15891-19438 n. Cf. R 94. 

1434 Ln 

1439-1506 Ln Lc note the source of the Narcissus story in Ovid, 
Met., m. 344-503. Lc considers Guillaume’s contribution the identi- 
fication of the Fountain of Narcissus with the fountain of love; cf. 
1425-1614 n. For an interpretation of Narcissus, current in mid-thir- 
teeth-century Paris, see John of Garland, Integumenta Ovidii , ed. 
Ghisalberti 1933, p. 49: “Narcissus is the youth filled with desire and 
deceived by the glory of worldly things, which flower and like shadows 
pass away.” Cf. Arnulfe d’Orleans, Allegoriae fabularum Ovidii , ill, 
5-6, ed. Ghisalberti 1932, p. 209, and note. On John of Garland, see 
Paetow 1927; on Arnulfe, see also Ghisalberti 1946, pp. 18-19. 

1456, 1472, 1499, 1536 Ln 

1538 two crystal stones'. R 95 - '"These are . . . [the Lover’s] 
own eyes, which . . . transmit colors and forms from outside into the 
well, just as mirrors do.” Cf. F 93-95. 

1543-70 Lc 
I 547 > 1551 Ln 

1571-1614 R 95: “The well ... is that mirror in the mind 
where Cupid operates. It has been tainted by Cupid ever since the Fall, 
when cupidity gained ascendancy over the reason.” 

1588 Venus: On the understanding of Venus in the poem, see 
10749-826 n. For a guide to MS illustrations of classical, historical, 
and Biblical subjects, see Fleming 1963, pp. 236-47. See also F 175, 
n. 77. 

1591-94 stretched his nets . . . birds : R 94-95; Koonce 1959* 

1595 Lc 

1 597-99 in books : Lc suggests parallels; cf. 78 n., 635-68 n. 

1607 I admired myself there (m’i mirai) : The present translation 
(and the parallel with Narcissus) is buttressed by the fact that Jean 
de Meun uses the same verb and construction with reference to Narcissus 
at 20412 (Quant il se mirait iqui sus). Cf. Goldin 1967, p. 57, “I 
saw myself there.” See his n. 10. Cf. R 95* 

1615 ff. On the roses, see 895-96 n. 

SNj)tes 365 

1619-25 I was seized . . . rosebushes : Guillaume does not have his 
dreamer turn away from the fountain toward the rosebushes. The 
impression left is that he pursues the roses within the fountain. While 
such a conclusion is illogical, it does in fact accord with the dream- 
situation, with “the madness,” with lines 1571-1602, with the legendary 
fate of Narcissus, and with Robertson’s analysis, p. 95, of the well as 
“that mirror in the mind where Cupid operates.” 

1623-24, 1629, 1643, 1644, 1647, 1649, 1650, 1669-70 Ln 


1681-2970 (Chapter 2) See 1-1680 n. 

1 693-95 Ln Lc document the notion of the arrows of love entering 
the eyes; cf. 1743-44. See Figs. 14, 60, from the two earliest illus- 
trated MSS. The latter, from B. N. fr. 1559, departs from the letter 
of the text in showing the arrow striking the Lover not in the eye or 
heart but in the genital region; it is thus more accurate symbolically 
than literally; and, in showing the God of Love’s goal, it provides a 
clear contemporary gloss to the text. Cf. 924-25, 935 ff. n. 

1710-20, 1719, 1735 Ln 

1784, 1785 Ln Lc 

1877, I 94°> 1945-54, I99 1 Ln 

1994, 1998 P 73 

1999-2007 Ln and Lc note that the key had appeared in Chretien 
de Troyes; see Yvain, 4626 (ed. Roques) and Perceval , 2636. 

2029 Ln Lc 

20 43 f or the grace of God : Ln notes that this is a curious expres- 
sion to use to the God of Love. It may well be used ironically. 

2052- 56 G 334 

2053- 56 Ln 

2062 for the romance improves from this 'point on: G 66, 1 14 
takes this line as an indication that for Guillaume, as for Jean, the 
major interest of the poem may have been expository or didactic. I would 
take the line as referring to more than the God of Love’s discourse, 
which is probably to be viewed as irony. 

2062, 2063-64, 2067-69 Ln 

2067-76 G114 

2071-72 explain the dream’s significance (espoigne . . . dou songe 
la senefiance) : P 22 takes this phrase as parallel to gloser ‘gloss,’ as a 
scholastic term; see 7153-80 n. Cf. also Phanie’s gloss to Croesus’s 
dream, 6489-622. 

2077-2232 On the parallels between the God of Love’s commands 

366 SN^otes 

to the Lover and the Old Woman’s advice to girls (through Fair Wel- 
coming, 1301 1 fF.), see F 176-78. Lc thinks that Guillaume did not 
intend a parody of the Ten Commandments, but, as he points out, Jean 
de Meun so regarded them; see 10396-412. “For Jean de Meun,” 
says Lc, “lines [2175 -2 10] constitute a single precept.” He notes that 
this interpretation is natural and that Jean has the Old Woman say 
that there are ten; cf. 13011-31. 

2077-86 Lc’s base MS omits this paragraph; he therefore supplies 
the ten lines from a control MS and numbers them 2074 a-j. See Ap- 
pendix. On the term villainy , see 156 n. 

2087-98, 2093, 2099 Ln 

2109-14 Cf. 5713-16. 

2131-76, 2135-74, 2148, 2149, 2158, 2169 (?) Ln 

2173-74 a love contrary to Nature : Contrast this concept, which 
more or less follows Alanus de Insulis, De flanctu naturae , with that 
developed later by Genius, in which the chaste are included among 
those who act “against Nature.” Cf. 4343-45 n., 16272-20703 n. 

2175-2210 See 2077-2232 n. 

2183-84 At one hour . . . hitter (Amant sentent le mal d’amer / 
Une eure douz e autre amer.) : The first amer is the verb, from Latin 
amare , the second the adjective, from Latin amarum . The rhyme was 
common in Old French and of course lends itself to the thematic de- 
velopment of the Romance , where it appears here and at 3483, 4233, 
1301 1, 13639, 14611 (see Ln, 1, 71, 121). For the thematic de- 
velopment, cf. 4293-334, 21573-82. The pun Vameir (love), Vameir 
(bitterness), la meir (the sea) appears in Chretien de Troyes, Cliges , 
541-44 (ed. Micha 1965, p. 17); Thomas, Tristan (ed. Bedier 1902- 
5, 1, 155); Gottfried von Strassburg, Tristan , 11985-92 (ed. Ranke 
1961, p. 150). 

2183, 2184, 2185, 2188, 2189-2210, 2203-5 Ln 

2225-28 Cf. 136-38 n. On brevity, Ln quotes Horace, Ars foetica , 


2245-46, 2263 Ln 

2265-2580 Lc (on the description of the effects of love, in large 
part adapted from Ovid) 

2265-68 Cf. 136-38 n. 

2278, 2288, 2295, 2302-13, 2305, 2309, 2317, 2327, 2341-42 Ln 

2358 Lc 

2391 Ln 

2417-18 This is the battle . . . last forever : Ln notes that Jean 
repeats the idea (and construction) at 5085-86. The context of course 
is quite different; in the later passage, the speaker, Reason, hardly pre- 
sents a “delightful” torment, as does the God of Love. The parallel 
then is ironic. 

2423 ff. R97 compares Alixandre in Chretien de Troyes, Cliges , 

${otes 367 

2 43 2 Ln; Lc cites M. D. Legge, “Toothache and Courtly Love,” 
French Studies, 4 (1950), 50-54. 

2 433 " 48 , 2442, 2459 Ln 

2465-66 Lc’s base MS omits these two lines, which he supplies from 
a control MS and numbers 2452 a-b. See Appendix. 

2470 Ln; P 73 
2519-20 Ln Lc 

2536 sanctuary : Lc notes the religious tone; cf. 2727, 20915 n. 
and the passages cited there. 

2544 conversations (parlers) : Ln chooses farters over fensers 
(thoughts), which, as he admits, suits sense if not rhyme Raters / 
farters) ; Lc’s base MS has fensers . 

2548, 2563, 2569, 2571 Ln 

2577-78 G 334 

2587, 2594 Ln 

2601-2 Ln Lc 

2611-17 Ln 

2627 Ln Lc 

2628, 2631-34, 2635-36 Ln 
2677-78 Ln Lc 

2695-96 with her beauty . . . countenance'. Lc omits these two 
lines, which do not occur in his base MS, but would fall between 2680 
and 2681 of his numbering; he notes their MS basis in his Variantes 11. 
See Appendix. 

2704, 2751 Ln 
2751-55 Cf. 136-38 n. 

2768 Ln 

2792 Fair Welcoming (Bel Acueil) : An important figure because 
he regulates access to the rose. He is imprisoned by Jealousy (3911-24), 
is wooed through the mediation of the Old Woman (12401-14678), 
and grants final access to the rose (21277-345). As a result, he often 
seems to be identified as female, and the MS illustrations show him with 
either sex; but his masculinity is chiefly grammatical, since the word 
acueil was masculine. Cf. T 322-23; F 43-46; Lewis 1936, p. 122. 

2827 Resistance (Dangier) : For the basic meaning of dangier , 
‘lordship, dominion, power,’ cf. 1033; see Lewis 1936, pp. 123-24, 
364-66. The choice in translation is to leave the name in the original 
and explain its meaning or to translate it with a term that may unduly 
limit the meaning. I choose a term which seems best suited to cover both 
the inner quality and overt manifestations of dangier in Lewis’s Sense 
B, ‘power to withhold.’ For the meaning ‘restraint,’ see F 187-89. See 
also Dahlberg 1969, pp. 579-81; Introduction, “The Illustrations.” 
2836 Ln 

2840 ff. daughter of Reason'. Cf. 3028, 14962, 20779. 

2854-56, 2894, 2922-23 Ln 

2965-67 No heart . . . sorrow'. P 78 cites I Cor. 2:9, calling this 

368 SNiptes 

passage an adaptation a to the sufferings of love of the Pauline epistle. 
Lc, in addition, quotes Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 625, and calls the locution a 
“banale” hyperbole from classical rhetoric. 


2971-4058 (Chapter 3) See 1-1680 n. Chapter 3 carries the 
Lover into the third of the three steps, the consent of reason, represented 
in the colloquy with and rejection ( 3 ° 73 " 9 ^) R eason * Cf. 4377“^8 n * 
The subsequent action follows naturally, and there is little reason to 
expect that Guillaume’s ending would have been different, in terms 
of overt action, from Jean’s; the style of course is quite different. 

2971 ff. P 81 notes that Jean de Meun reintroduces the character 
Reason. See Introduction on the unity of the two parts. Cf. 4221-7230 
n.; R 98, 199. 

2975-80 Cf. 4233 " 3 6 n - 

2976 tower'. Cf. 4227. 

2981-82 Ln 

2984-95 She looked . . . that he believe her'. Ln provides two 
parallels for the idea that Nature could not form Reason and that she 
was made in paradise. On Nature as God s vicar, or chamberlain, see 
Chapter 9, particularly 16729-800. On Reason as the image of God 
in man, P 78 cites Gen. 1:26-28 and notes that the “letter” (2989) 
is that of the Bible. He sees a parallel between 2991 {A sa semblant e 
a s’image) and 2985 ( A son semblant e a son vis), a parallel which the 
translation obscures. Cf. 19025-28, 19191-95? i()2i 4.-16, I ^^ 75 _ 77 > 
all passages from Nature’s confession, where she complains that man, 
made in the image of God, is the only one of her creatures who acts 
unreasonably. Cf. R 44; Augustine, De civitate Dei , xii. xxiv. 

The agreement between Guillaume and Jean in their concept of 
Reason and the centrality of that figure in the poem are arguments for 
its unity. See Introduction. 

2987-88 For Nature would not have known how to make a work 
of such regularity: Nature makes the same point about herself at 19055- 
62. Cf. Augustine, De trinitate y XII. iv (4). 

2996 While I was thus lamenting: Cf. 4221-22 n. 

2997 Ln 

2998-99 Fair friend . . . dismay: Again, both Guillaume and Jean 
agree, in the words of Reason, that the Lover is foolish. Cf. 4229-5 2 > 
5791-92, 6741-52. 

3004 Ln 

3015 Ln Lc 



3028 Cf. 2840 ff., 14962, 20779. 

3 ° 3 L 3 ° 33 > 3 0 38 Ln 
3041-42 G 335 

3050 Ln notes that the white monks are the Cistercians. 

3051-52 Ln 
3057-58 G 335 
3062, 3064 Ln 
3067 Take the bit hard in your teeth : For the iconography, cf. 
19787 n. 

3089 idleness-. Ln suggests the play on words with the name of the 
character Idleness. 

3 ° 93"94 Ln suggests the sense: “I want to persevere in loving well 
and only at the end to be praised or blamed for doing so.” 

3096-98 G 335 

3 I 34 , 3 I 45 > 3 i6 7 Ln 
3209-10 Ln Lc 

3211,3216,3223,3228,3281-82 Ln 
33 ” Lc 

3345-46 If he had.. . so: Omitted in Lc between 3328 and 3329. 
See Appendix. A translation of the Lc text would read : “Fair Welcom- 
ing saluted me sweetly and showed me an appearance fairer than he 
had ever shown before.” 

3353"54 j alien . . . jrom deepest hell to paradise (cheoiz . . . / De 
grant enfer en parevis) : Guillaume underlines the inverted state of the 
Lover’s reasoning by the verb cheoir , normally used of a fall from para- 
dise to hell. 

3394 , 3400-8 Ln 
3414-15 Ln Lc 

34 2 7 quaint (cointe) : the diction, with its sexual implications, ful- 
fills in its word-play the idea of the previous sentence. Cf. 8841-44. 
3473-936 P 137 

3473-74 breath (aier Ln, eer Lc) : I have adopted Lc’s suggestion 
that the word is a form of air, rather than of miter ‘help/ as Ln thought. 
3479 Ln 

3483-84 love . . . bitter : See 2183-84 n. 

3517 , 3523 , 3537 , 3550 , 3552 , 3574 - 76 , 3582, 3588, 3635, 3636, 
3639 , 3646 Ln 

3651-53 tn which we can do nothing . April and May have passed 
many times (De ce don nos ne poon mais. / Maintes foiz est avris e 
mais / Passez) : Lc notes the common occurrence of the second phrase, 
and Ln notes its later appearance in Rutebeuf, La complainte de Guil- 
laume, line 56; Faral and Bastin 1959-60, 1, 260, note that in line 54 
of the same poem we have the same construction ( ne pouvoir mais) as 
in the first of the two phrases, a construction that reappears in the 
Romance, 3690. In sum, Rutebeuf’s verbal echo of Guillaume de Lor- 

370 SN^otes 

ris’s poem is stronger than Ln and Lc indicate, and it occurs in the same 
poem that offered Jean de Meun the name False Seeming (Faux 
Semblant). Faral and Bastin date the poem 1259. See 10459 n - 

3660 Ln 

3689 Lc 

3690 Cf. 3651-53 n. 

3697 Ln 

3702-3 Ln Lc 
373 1 5 3732 Ln 

3761 situation : literally, “verse.” See Ln’s note, and gloss, v, 325. 

3761-66 On the use of the present tense and the ambivalent point 
of view that such use suggests, see Strohm 1968, pp. 6-7. 

379 L 3796 Ln 

3797-99 Cf. 136-38 n. 

3839 Lc 

3840-41 Ln 

3869 ff. Ln quotes a passage from Thibaut of Champagne which 
names the three porters Fair Seeming, Beauty, and Resistance (Biaus 
Semblanz, Biautez, Dangier). The first two of the three correspond, not 
to Guillaume’s porters but to the last and first of the arrows of love 
(935-56). The Thibaut passage is interesting because of its differences 
from Guillaume. It shows the direct use of personification in allegory, 
for Fair Seeming, Beauty, and Resistance are waiting to seize the lover 
and put him in prison. Guillaume’s method is ironic, for he distributes 
the three characters into seemingly opposite forces: Beauty and Fair 
Seeming lead to Fair Welcoming, but Resistance (apparently) keeps 
the Lover away from Fair Welcoming; and it is Fair Welcoming, 
not the Lover, who is put in prison. But the Lover is as surely trapped 
in one case as in the other; Guillaume inverts only part of the picture. 

3888, 3891 Ln 

3893-90° Ln. Lc’s text would produce a slightly different trans- 
lation: “Foul Mouth . . . had soldiers from Normandy. He guarded 
the door behind, and you may know too that he often came and went 
at the other three. When he knew that he was to be on lookout at night, 
he would mount up . . .” 

3898 discords (descorz) : Ln says simply “a kind of song.” It was 
apparently a form of lai, which in turn was “constructed on the plan 
of the ecclesiastical sequence.” While scholars have been unable to trace 
the “discordance” which gave the descorz its name, Friedrich Gennrich 
believes that it consisted in a rhythmic variation in the repetition of a 
series of notes (Reese 1940, pp. 225-26). 

3920 an old woman : For Jean’s extensive elaboration of this char- 
acter, see 12381-14807. Cf. R 1 31. 

3925-30 Ln 

3927-36 for there was no . . . the old dance : Lc supplies these 

ZNjDtes 371 

I'nes (3908 a-j in his numbering), which his base MS omits, from a 
control MS. See Appendix. 

3930 Ln 

3936 She knew the whole of the old dance : See R 131-32. Ln’s 
interpretation that to know the old dance means to be cunning or 
crafty — is clear but neglects the figurative context. Cf. Chaucer’s Wife 
of Bath, CT, 1. 476. 

3940 , 3951, 3966, 3978 Ln 

3981-91 It is just as with Fortune . . . who is so turned'. The com- 
parison between the instability of Love and that of Fortune is picked 
up by Jean de Meun and developed — in Reason’s speech — at great 
length. See 4837-974 n. 

4047-58 Cf. Strohm 1968, pp. 3-4, 8-9, who suggests that Guil- 
laume’s ending is suitable as a complaint, which “is really the conclusion 
of a finished poem.” 

4 ° 49 “ 5 ° an( I influence you . . . line'. Ln notes the palaeographical 
reason for the omission of these two lines by the scribe of MS Ha, 
Lecoy’s base; Lecoy, however, has decided to omit them from his edi- 
tion, preferring the reading (in translation) : “I know in truth that 
they hope to deceive you, and perhaps they have already done so.” See 
Lc, Variantes II, line 4020 ; and Appendix. 

4058 Ln gives the 78-line text of the anonymous conclusion that 
appears in several MSS. Since it exhibits a marked lessening of literary 
skill, I omit a translation; see Robbins 1962, pp. 89-90. Briefly, Dame 
Pity brings Fair Welcoming, Beauty, Loyalty, Sweet Looks, and Sim- 
plicity from the tower while Jealousy is sleeping. Beauty gives the rose- 
bud to the Lover, and he spends the night with it on the grass, under 
rose-petal ^coverlets. In the morning, Beauty laughs at Jealousy, asks 
the Lover’s promise of faithful service, and returns with the rosebud to 
the tower. 


4 ° 59 “ 2I 7 ^° (Part 11) Cf. R 198: “In Jean de Meun’s continua- 
tion, the organization is, if anything, more explicit than that of the earlier 
part of the poem, and, at the same time, there is a much more thorough 
effort at exemplification. With reference to the first point, the poem 
may be seen to fall into well-defined sections devoted to explicit exposi- 
tion by the principal characters, each of whom, in effect, reveals his or 
her own nature. The ‘characters’ thus serve as rubrics under which 
the various^ ideas and attitudes relevant to the subject of love may be 
developed.” Dunn 1962, p. xiii, compares the poem to “some great 

372 Stoles 

French cathedral, conceived by its first architect in early Gothic . . . 
and then extended on a grandiose plan and executed in an advanced 
and ornate style.” The simile is stylistically apt and recognizes the 
poem’s basic unity. See R 202-7 for a discussion of stylistic differences 
between Guillaume and Jean. Cf. T 237: “Jean de Meun was firmly 
interested in the relation of eternal beatitude to heavenly and earthly 
love, but the riotous gallop of his ironies shows that while the blas- 
phemously ‘loyal’ Lover can be deceived into thinking his plucked Rose 
will teach him something about a paradise other than an earthly one 
with a serpent in it, Jean de Meun is not so deceived; and he is using 
every device of writing to make us notice the Lover’s deception with 
amusement.” Her discussion of the Romance occupies pp. 233-84. For 
a characteristic older view, see Lewis 1 93 ^> e *£*> PP* I 37 " 4 2 > Cohn 


4 ° 59 " 7 2 3 ° (Chapter 4) Although in one way or another Jean de 
Meun manages to recapitulate the whole of the Lover’s experience in 
Guillaume’s portion, he has chosen to emphasize the third step, the con- 
sent of reason ; accordingly Chapter 4 is a large-scale amplification of 
the colloquy between the Lover and Reason at 297 i“ 3 ° 9 ^* Cf. 4 22I “ 
7230 n. 

4059-221 P 81 

4059-60 G 136; cf. 10595-96. 

4059 p 136 

4067, 4070 Ln (Cf. 2631-39.) 

4071, 4078 Ln 

4084-92 For when she constructs . . . dare blame her’. P 35 " 3 ^> 
27 explains the scholastic terminology. “The worse” is a negative, “the 
better,” an affirmative conclusion to the formal scholastic disputation 
( querelle ), a syllogistic form. Cf. 17101-2 n. 

4097 Ln 

41 14-19 Ln; cf. 2640-750. 

4 I 3 °> 4 I 34 Ln 

4181-84 Ln (4185 n.); cf. 2025-28. 

4190 Lc 

4221-7230 P 81-135 gives a seriatim analysis of Reason’s speech 
but thinks (p. 82) that “most of the ideas in this chapter have no direct 
connection with the progress of the Roman.” He does not, apparently, 
connect the character Reason with his discussion (pp. 34 " 35 ) °f reason 
as a scholastic term, which he limits to the relatively minor meaning 
‘rational proof.’ Reason, however, is of central importance in the poem. 
The 3000 lines of her discourse open Jean’s continuation; she gives a 

fKptes 373 

lengthy analysis of the central theme, love; and the basic contrast be- 
tween her rationality and the varying degrees of irrationality in the 
major personifications and in the Lover sets her apart as a central figure. 
Cf. 2971 ff. n.; F 112-40. 

4221-28 G 168-69 

4221-22 While I raved . . . suffering : Langlois 1890, pp. 94 ff., 
indicates that Jean de Meun echoes Boethius and Alanus in these lines. 
However, he could just as easily be echoing Guillaume (2996), and 
both of them Boethius and Alanus. 

4233-36 How do the woes . . . and sufficiency : See P 7 1 -7 5 for a 
discussion of the scholastic theme “virtue resides in the mean” {in 
medio stat virtus). Cf. 2975-80, 4402, 5744-50, 5760, 11269-76; 
P 50. At 1 1 275, sufficiency is defined as “the mean.” 

4233-34 love . . . bitter'. See 2183-84 n. 

4263-65, 4268-71, 4274-9 2 G 336-37 

4279-358 Ln quotes the source, Alanus de Insulis, De flanctu 
naturae y PL 210, cols. 455 A-456 B. Cf. Lc; P 82. The well-known 
oxymoronic description of love (4293 ff.) is Reason’s opening descrip- 
tion (see Introduction), and readers and scribes of the MSS often drew 
attention to it as well as to Andreas Capellanus’s definition which follows 
at 4377-86. Opposite this passage in MS London, British Museum 
Egerton 881, fol. 29 b, is a note by two different readers, “description] 
dam [our] folle.” The word “folk” is in a hand at least a century later 
than that which wrote the other two words. The note thus provides a 
kind of chronological stratification : it may be inferred that a thirteenth- 
century reader would have known, without the note, what kind of love 
was involved. Even when the first annotator made his comment, he did 
not find it necessary to qualify the word “amour.” 

There is evidence that scribes saw the definition in much the same 
way. MS Arras, Bibliotheque municipale 532 (845), contains extracts 
from the Romance with explanatory rubrics at the heads of columns or 
pages. Fol. 251 b is headed “Nota Raison contra fol amor carnel”; the 
next page contains the Alanus description and is headed “Raison descrip- 
tion damor carnel”; the first column of the next folio (252 a) is headed 
“Rais<?« de le difinitzon damor carnel” and contains Andreas Capel- 
lanus’s definition of love (4377-88); and finally, to make the point of 
contrast perfectly clear, the next column (252 b) has the heading “de 
lamor de dieu” and contains the long interpolation which occurs in 
many MSS at 4400-1 (see note). Cf. 4377-88 n. 

4279-84 P 38 discusses the scholastic terms demonstration , science y 
ofinion y belief (creance). Cf. 6697-98, 16829-32, 17348-51, 18059- 
60, 18640-43. 

4285-88 Lc offers a translation which differs from mine, approxi- 
mately as follows (I translate his modern French) : “[. . . what cannot 
be known, demonstrated, or understood,] and that [i.e., you shall have 
such knowledge] in order that every man who consecrates his heart to 

374 V^Cptes 

love may have a better understanding of it, without, at the same time, 
having his suffering diminished as a result, unless he is capable of re- 
nouncing it.” 

4329 Ln Lc 

4333-34 Ln 

4343-45 whom Genius . . . Nature : Ln points out that the source 
is Alanus, De flanctu y PL 210, cols. 482 B, 432 A. The later develop- 
ment of Genius in the Romance , 16272-20703, is based upon that of 
Alanus but incorporates important differences which depend upon Jean’s 
ironic method. The basic meaning of Genius is naturalis concufiscentia 
‘natural concupiscence, natural desire or inclination’ (R 199-202, citing 
Guillaume de Conches, quoted in Jeaunneau 1958, p. 46). In Alanus, 
Genius quite properly excommunicates those who act im-naturally; and 
Reason, at this point, so uses him. But later, when Nature and Genius 
operate allegorically as mirrors of the Lover’s condition, this natural 
inclination becomes the servant, in episcopal robes, of the God of Love, 
the very one whom Reason, in this context, warns against. The hilarious 
result is that Jean’s Genius puts the chaste into the same category that 
Alanus’s Genius had put the perverted. That Jean did not misunderstand 
Alanus is perfectly clear in this passage. For background, see Knowlton 
1920 and 1922-23; Lewis 1936, pp. 361-63, and 1966, pp. 169-74. 
Cf. 16272-20703 n., 2173-74 n. 

4357-58 Ln 

4369 make a fublic lecture of the whole thing (lire en tout comune- 
ment) : P 18-19 discusses the scholastic terms lire y congie de lire . Cf. 
5037 » 5757 . 7 ° 99 - IOI > 12350-53, 12817, 13503-6, 1 39 1 9 » 13928, 

4371-76 G 339; P 83 

4376- 628 P 97 

4377- 88 Ln quotes the source, Andreas Capellanus, De amore y 1. 
i-ii. Cf. Lc; P 83-84. See Introduction on the correspondence between 
this definition and the traditional analysis of the three stages of sin: sug- 
gestion, delight, and consent; see Dahlberg 1953, pp. 166-69 f° r evi *“ 
dence that the definition is one of cupidity. Cf. R 84-86 and (for an 
extended analysis of the De amore ) 391-448. See 4279-358 n.; and 
contrast 5443-54. 

4379 Ln 

4389-97 P 85 

439 1 Ln 

4400 to he deceived , : Lc’s punctuation supports the translation ; Ln 
has a semicolon, probably in error. 

4400-1 Langlois 1910, p. 425, notes that a long interpolated 
passage appears between these two lines in many of the MSS. In addi- 
tion to those he lists, three other MSS contain the passage, one (Paris, 
B. N. fr. 802) on the last folio, another (B. N. fr. 1559) on a folio 
(37) inserted after the original text had been made up into a book, and 

?K.otes 375 

the third (Arras, Bibl. mun. 532 [845], described but not classified 
by Langlois) within the text of some fragments of the Romance , fol. 
252. Cf. 4279-358 n. 

The passage is an extended definition of charity, and its appearance 
in MSS as early as the thirteenth century shows a) that readers saw 
charity as a background of Reason’s exposition and b) that Jean’s artistry 
had no need at this point of making this assumed background explicit. 
For text of the interpolation, see Meon 1814, pp. 19-22, or Dahlberg 
1 953 , PP* 249-51. The text appears as a separate poem, with the rubric 
“Un petit trestie damour en rime,” in MS Paris, B. N. fr. 1136, fols. 
130 d-132 a. 

4402 the mean : Ln (i.e., neither to deceive nor to be deceived) ; cf. 
4233-36 n. 

4403-21 G 245-46 notes the parallel with 5763-76 and cites the 
two passages as statements of the “principle of replenishment,” one of 
the doctrines that he sees as part of Jean de Meun’s “philosophy of 
plenitude.” P 57-58 cites this passage as an expression of ideas relating 
to the Aristotelian doctrine on the relation between individuals and 
species in the material world; and he adduces Thomas Aquinas, Summa , 
ii-ii, 1 5 1, 3, as a contemporary Aristotelian parallel. But the idea is 
orthodox in Christian tradition and closely related to the idea of the 
Fall. R 86 cites Augustine, De genesi ad litteram y xi. 32. 42: “Once 
[Adam and Eve] had given up the condition [in which they had existed 
before the Fall], their bodies took on a diseased, death-bringing quality, 
which exists naturally in the flesh of beasts; and in order that births 
might succeed deaths, their bodies also took on that same impulse that 
brings about in beasts the appetite for copulation.” Cf. De trinitate y xiii. 
xii (16), quoted by Peter Lombard, Sentences , 111, d. xx, c. 1, where 
Augustine distinguishes between two natures, one as it is “rightly created 
from the beginning,” the other as it is “depraved in sin.” Cf. 6965-78, 
15891-19438 n., 15893-16016, 16625-28; 16005-12 n. 

4415-20 P 58 

4416, 4422 Ln 
4422-24 P 85 

4430-32 Ln (Cf. Cicero, De senectute y xn.). F 120 points out 
that the phrase “the root of all evil” is not in Cicero but, of course, in 
1 Tim. 6:10, and that Reason’s addition of the Scriptural phrase is a 
further means of identifying the Lover’s love as cupidity. 

4430-31 concludes (determine): P 23-27 discusses the terms sen- 
tence y doner sentence y determiner ; cf. 5488-89, 7099-7104, 7190, 
8306, 10681-83, 11375-80, 15177-83, 17282-88, 17421-23, 17727- 
28, 19079-82, 19113-14, 20597-99, 20611-14, 20771-73. 

4433-4544 P 86 

4444-63 He may go into some convent . . . the virtue of fatience : 
P 86, 187 considers this passage an attack on the life of the monastery 
and relates it to the antimendicant passages (e.g., 10467 ff.). But we 

376 5 N (otes 

can distinguish between monks, who “mew themselves up” (4448), 
and the mendicant friars, “the divines who walk the earth” (5101). 
Reason complains here of the false monks who enter the religious life 
for the wrong reasons; note the contrast between remaining in the 
monastery because of shame and remaining there, through grace, in a 
state of patience and obedience. Cf. the apparently similar passage at 
1 3967-78 and note. 

4447 fluck the crane from the sky (prendre au ciel la grue) : Ln, 
V, 219, glosses as ‘faire une belle affaire’ (make a good thing for him- 
self). The phrase occurs in Rutebeuf, Vie de Sainte Elysabel , 388, and 
Faral and Bastin 1959-60, 11, 1 12, take the phrase to mean ‘to perform 
a miracle.’ Cf. Dante, Inferno , v. 46 : “E come i gru van cantando lor 
lai.” Those who wail like the cranes are the shades of the “peccator 
carnali, / che la ragion sommettono al talento” (“the carnal sinners who 
subject reason to desire,” Inferno , v. 38-39, ed. and trans. Sinclair 
1939, PP- 74-75). Among these, of course, the most famous are Paolo 
and Francesca. To pluck the crane from the sky would be to overcome 
desire in an impossibly easy way, thus to “get to heaven” without work- 
ing, or, as in line 5423, to “fly with the cranes.” 

4463-65 p 73 

4469, 4471-72, 4484, 4512 Ln 
4540 sovereign good : P 50 
4545 - 50 , 4559-78 P 86 
456o, 4563-68 G 387 (Cf. 13695 ff.) 

4599 any more than by bodily pleasures : Lc’s note suggests this 

4600-80 P 86 

4624-25 recover it y if indeed . . . : The translation here depends 
upon lighter punctuation than the periods that both Ln and Lc use at 
the end of 4624 (Ln: Mais recouvrer ne le pourras. / Encor, se par 
tant en eschapes,). 

4635 Ln 

4663-85 G 339-40 
4667 P 32 
4680-768 P 87, 97 

4685-762 Lc (The ultimate source is Cicero, De amicitia-, cf. 

4685-774 Ln quotes parallels from Cicero, De amicitia y v y vi y xn, 
xiii, xiv, xvii. See Friedman 1962 for evidence that Jean de Meun’s 
source for specific passages — and possibly for much of the Ciceronian 
material in general — was Aelred of Rievaulx’s De sfirituali amicitia ; 
cf. 4924-40 n. 

47 I2 - r 4 , 4739 Ln 
4747-48 Ln; P 46 

4769-836 p 87, 97 



4807-8 Ln (Cf. 5235-36-) 

4836- 5356 P 88 

4837- 974 See P 115-32 for a discussion of the theme of Fortune 
in the poem as a whole, F 123-32 for an iconographical analysis of the 
theme and figure of Fortune. The major passages, besides this, are 
3981-91, 5877-6900, and 8005-154; see also 4975-5588 n. For back- 
ground, see Patch 1927, Courcelle 1967. The present passage, as Ln 
and Lc note, is a translation and development from Boethius, De con- 
solatione philo sophia e ( De cons.), II, pr. 8. 

4842-48 P 34-35 discusses raison as a scholastic term and compares 
6300-3, 6335-37, 17237-38, 18440. See 4221-7230 n. 

4863, 4894, 4920, 4941-42, 4942, 4943-44 Ln 

4924-40 Friedman 1962, pp. 140-41 documents a specific source 
in Aelred of Rievaulx. 

4947-48 Ln Lc 

4949, 4966 Lc 

4975“5588 P 98-115 takes this long passage somewhat out of the 
context of Fortune and discusses it under the heading of “social and 
political morality.” The objection here is not a mere quibble, since 
Jean’s treatment makes this passage on riches and poverty, justice and 
nobility, subordinate to the topic of Fortune, which is in turn subordinate, 
as one form of love, to the full discussion of the different kinds of love. 
By treating the material in this passage separately, Pare has encouraged 
his conclusion that “in this matter [of social and political morality], 
Friend speaks exactly as Reason does, Nature as Friend does, False 
Seeming as Reason, Friend, and Nature do, which indicates clearly 
where the author’s preferences lie” (p. 98). Aside from questions of 
literal accuracy, we have a set of strange bedfellows here, for the align- 
ment ignores even the overt disposition of forces in the Lover’s battle. 
The most misleading assumption is that Jean shares the attitudes of each 
of the characters, for such an assumption neglects the possibility of irony. 
The passages that Pare adduces in comparison are 18561-885 (Nature), 
20123-29 (Genius), 8447-48, 9521-664 (Friend); the collocations 
are useful, but often, when differences in speaker are taken into account, 
more to reveal irony than agreement. Cf., for example, 20033 n., 5 535- 
54 n., 8355-9634 n. 

4991 Ln Lc 

5020 Cf. 8128 n. 

5025-32 Ln Lc (Calcidius, cxxxvi, ed. 1962) 

5029 Cf. 8128 n. 

5 ° 35 " 4 ° Ln Lc; G 53. De cons ., 1, pr. 5. Jean had not yet done 
the translation (ed. Dedeck-Hery 1952) that he proposes at 5039-40. 

5037 Cf. 4369 n. 

5045 Ln 

5049 La Greve : Ln; the unloading ramp for the Seine river- 

378 SN^otes 

freight, on the site of the present-day Place de Y Hotel de Ville in Paris. 
Cf. Rutebeuf, Dit des Ribands de Greve , ed. Faral and Bastin 1 95 9-60, 

h 53 1 - 

5052, 5053 . 5054 , 5063 Ln 
5085-86 Ln (Cf. 2417-18.) 

5101-18 the divines who walk the earth : the mendicant friars. Cf. 
P 187 and 4444-63 n. 

5127-32 Ln Lc 
5143-44 p 46 
5159-66,5173-74 Ln 
5185-87 Lc 

5196-202, 5221-25, 5226 Ln 
5235-36 Ln. Cf. 4807-8. 

5269-79, 5280-84 Ln 

5280 Lc (Juvenal, Satire x. 22) 

5315-45 p 124 

5315-19 Lc (Boethius, De cons., n, pr. 5. 14) 

53 1 9 Ln 

5320 P 303 (Cf. 7072.) 

53 2 5 Ln 

5388-403 Ln 

5395 Lc 

5405-11 Ln Lc (Cicero, De amicitia, iv) 

5417-18 Ln 

5423 cranes'. Cf. 4447 n. 

5424-26 Socrates’ swan : Ln Lc (John of Salisbury, Policraticus , 
11. 16) 

5435-58 p 88-89 

5443-54 He must love generally ... to take toward you'. Lc (to 
5451-52, 5453-54). P 43-44 discusses the terms generaumenty en 
generalitSy en es'pecialite\ cf. 18274-78, 20371; 18305-20 n. P 88-89 
notes the connection between “loving generally” and the Christian pre- 
cept of charity. My translation of the phrase dou comun (‘of what is 
common to all’) does not entirely agree with Ln’s gloss of comun ‘le 
peuple, la foule.’ It is somewhat surprising that neither Ln nor P note 
any parallel to the Golden Rule, not even the most obvious one; Lc 
quotes Matt. 7:12 and one proverbial formulation of the very wide- 
spread negative form of the rule in 5453-54. With the entire passage, 
contrast the definition of cupidinous love at 4377-88. 

5459-695 p 89 
5467 Ln 

5488-89 See 4430-31 n. 

5495 Ln 

5527-31 P 90 

5532 It is for this reason that I call love the better'. Lc. See also his 
article, Lecoy 1964. 

«5A £< otes 279 

5535-54 Fleming 1963* P* 228, points out that according to the 
First Vatican Mythographer, “the birth of Venus was not a happy 
moment in the history of the human race,” and notes that the birth 
was coincident with the disappearance of the Golden Age (see 5537- 
42 n.) ; cf. F 146. Thus the use of the Golden Age motif by Friend 
and Genius, both in the service of Venus, is additionally ironic. Cf. 
4975-5588 n., 8355-9664 n., 20033 n * 

5537 P * 3 2 > *35 

5537 “ 4 2 Saturn , whose testicles . . . as the book tells : Cf. 20034-36, 
1 0827-30. The “book,” as Ln notes, may well be the First Vatican 
Mythographer (ed. Bode 1834, 1, 33, 34, 64) ; but Lc’s suggestion of 
the Second and Third Mythographers (Ibid., 1, 84, 155) or of Servius’s 
commentary on the Aeneid (ill. 707 and v. 801) is less appropriate, 
since Jean is not following the Hesiod tradition that these writers do. 
In that tradition Kronos (Saturn), rather than Zeus (Jupiter), is the 
one who castrates his father. Jean’s version may well go back to Ful- 
gentius (see Liebeschiitz 1926, p. 58; cf. Third Mythographer, ed. 
Bode, 1, 155). Bode (11, 35-36) accounts for the shift from Saturn to 
his son Jupiter through a confusion between the castration of the Sky, 
by his son Saturn, and the struggle against the Titans, in which Jupiter 
overthrew his father Saturn and banished him to Tartarus. See Hesiod, 
Theogony , 154-210, 617-819; Ovid, Met., 1. 113-15; Servii . . . com- 
mentarii , ed. Thilo and Hagen 1881, 1. 457, 649-50. 

5543 Ln 

5562-63 . . . absolutely . . . (simplement) : P 40-41 discusses the 
terms simflement , necessite simple 9 necessite en regart . Cf. 17228-29. 
55 7 1 Ln 

5589-658 Ln Lc give the reference in Livy, Annals , 1. iii. 44-58. 
Ln quotes parallels at 5600-14, 5616, 5618-23, 5635-39, 5649-56. 
Cf. Chaucer, Physician } s Tale , CT , vi. 1-286. 

5659- 92 P 91 

5660- 62 Ln Lc 

5683-84 Ln 

5695- 96 the reasons which seem to me appropriate to this judgment 
(les raisons . . . / Qui me semblent a ce meues) : Ln’s gloss on movoir 
construes a as auxiliary with meues. This reading involves a lack of 
concord with qui , whose antecedent is raisons. I therefore translate a as 
a preposition and meues (past participle as adjectival modifier of raisons , 
literally ‘moved’) as ‘appropriate.’ Cf. Foulet 1920, section 112. 

5696- 763 P 92 

5697- 724 Cf. 6928-7228. 

5700-3 Ln (Cf. 5537.) 

5710 Ln; G 342 
5712-16 G 342 

5 7 1 3 “ 1 6 My master . . . ribaldry : The prohibition occurs at 2109- 




57 1 3 > 57 iS- 1 ^ G 169 
5737-39 LnLc 

5744-50, 5760 cf. 4233-36 n - 
5757 Cf. 4369 n. 

5763-94 On this important passage, see Dahlberg 1969, pp. 57 2 " 
75. G 245-47 sees it as evidence for the “principle of replenishment,” 
and P 92, 97 identifies it with the “affetitus naturalis or amor naturalis 
of the scholastics.’’ Cf. 4403-21 n. 

5769 p 32 

5777-850 p 92-95 

5837-38 Ln (Cf. 1453-66.) 

5847-62 Solinus : Third-century author of Collectaneum rerum 
memorabilium. Ln Lc quote the passage on Socrates. 

5848 Ln 

5869-74 Ln quotes the Solinus passage on Heraclitus and Diogenes. 

5877-6900 See 4837-974 n.; P 1 19-22. Cf. 8005-154 n. 

5914-15 Ln Lc quote Juvenal, Satire x. 365-66, and Ln adds 
Alanus, De flanctu , PL 210, col. 464 A. 

5921-61 18 Lc cites, Ln quotes the source for the description of the 
island of Fortune, a long passage from Alanus, A nticlau dianus, vn. 
405-VIII. 14, ed. Bossuat 1955. Cf. Patch 1927, pp. 123-46 (not 42- 
49, as in P 1 1 9, n. I ) ; P 1 1 9-20. 

593 8 > 594 L 5942 Ln 

5945 P 50 . 

5978-6078 With the two rivers, cf. the two springs of Narcissus s 
fountain (1532), Jupiter’s two tuns (6813-42 n.), and Venus’s two 
fountains (Claudian, De nuftiis Hon ., 69-70, quoted Lc, I, 276). 

5978, 6041, 6080, 6085 Ln 

6119-72 Ln Lc ( Anticlaudianus , vm. 45-5 7 ) 

6157-60 And when she sees ... in a whorehouse : Lc (6129 n.) 
asks where Jean de Meun got the comparison between Fortune and a 
whore. To the two rather remote parallels that he lists we may add 
those in Patch 1927, pp. 12, 56-57. Boethius and Alanus offer sufficient 
basis, if not a clear parallel, for the concept. The figure is common 
in Shakespeare (e.g., Hamlet, II. ii. 239, 515). 

6166-70 Ln 

6185-272 For the episode of Nero’s cruelty, Lc summarizes Jean’s 
borrowings from Boethius, De cons., II, pr. 6 and m. 6, along with 
other sources. Ln quotes the parallels in his notes to 6188-202, 6203-6 
(Suetonius), 6208 (John of Salisbury), 6211-13, 6246-50, 6251-72, 
6263-65. Chaucer uses much of the Nero material in the Monk’s Tale , 
CT, vii. 2463-550. 

6194-96 On Nero’s opening his mother’s womb (not in Boethius), 
see Ln, Lc (6155-242 n.), and Jean de Meun 1952, p. 200, where 
he adds this detail to Boethius, 11, m. 6. 

6220 P 303 



6229-45 Ln 
6251-342 P 109-14 
6265, 6275-77 (Lc also) Ln 
6278 P 50 
6280-81 Ln 

6291-342 Lc and Ln note that the “text” mentioned at 6293 and 
6299 is the De cons. Lc summarizes the parallels to III, pr. 12 and iv, 
pr. 2; Ln quotes passages in his notes to 6291-99, 6304-12. 

6300-3 P 15-18 discusses the terms aucteur , auctorite, auten- 
tique ; cf. 6627-28, 9187-88, 15217-18, 16196-98; on reasons , cf. 
4842-48 n. 

6332 P 50 

6335-37 Cf. 4842-48 n. 

6355”70 Ln quotes, Lc cites the passage from Claudian, In 
Rufnum , 1. 1-23. 

6361 P 28 

6370, 6381-412, 6392, 6408 Ln 

6413-88 Lc (Suetonius, Nero , xlvii-xlix) ; Ln gives details in 
notes to specific passages. 

6422, 6430, 6458 Ln 

6458 p 303 

6489-630 Ln and Lc both note that the Croesus story is suggested 
by Boethius, De cons ., 11, pr. 2; for further details, Ln suggests the 
First and Second Vatican Mythographers, ed. Bode 1834, I, 59-60, 
137, where the dream and the connection with Fortune are explicit. 
Cf. Chaucer, Monk's Tale , CT, vil. 2727-66. 

6528-32 Ln 

6568-70 Instead of Fall {Cheance) , Lc suggests Chance ( Hasard), 
and quotes the parallel in A nticlaudianus , vn. 397-400, where the cor- 
responding word is Casus . Langlois’s gloss, “chute personifiee” (v, 334) 
seems strengthened, if anything, by this parallel, but of course the no- 
tions of “fall” and “chance” are both present and closely related in the 
word casus . 

6569, 6570-71 Ln 

6579-92 See T 43. Cf. 18607-896. 

6581-92 P 103 
6592, 6594-95 Ln Lc 
6600 P 73 

6608-10 For know . . . letter : Cf. 7153-80 n. 

6627-28 Cf. 6300-3 n. 

6631-740 Jean’s account of the contemporary struggle between 
Manfred and Charles of Anjou for the kingdom of the Two Sicilies 
is important in dating the poem; see Introduction. For the historical 
details and sources, see the notes of Ln and Lc. Briefly, Charles of 
Anjou killed Manfred at the battle of Benevento, Feb. 26, 1266, and 
assumed the throne which Pope Urban had offered him; and when 

3 82 5 ^ otes 

Conradin, Manfred’s nephew, took up the struggle, Charles defeated 
him at the battle of Tagliacozzo, Aug. 23, 1268. Henry of Castile had 
been Charles’s supporter, but betrayed him and fomented the revolt of 

6631-98 Cf. Chaucer, BD , 617-86. 

6631 Ln notes that Jean de Meun alludes to Charles’s victory 
over Conradin in his translation of Vegetius, UArt de Chevalerie , II. 
xvii, ed. U. Robert, Paris, 1897 (satf). 

6650 in the front ranks of his army (En la prumeraine bataille) : 
Lc (1, 287) quotes historical justification for this translation; Ln (6637- 
45 n.) assumes “in the first battle,” i.e., the battle of Benevento, a 
reasonable interpretation but not as well supported. 

6662 Ln 

6664 fools (fos) : The fool was equivalent — in chess — to the mod- 
ern bishop. 

6684 Lc 

6691-98 Ln and Lc cite John of Salisbury, Policraticus , 1. 5, ed. 
Webb 1909, p. 35. 

6697-98 Cf. 4279-84 n. 

6723 Lc 

6769, 6772, 6774, 6778-79, 6803-4 Ln 

6813-42 On Jupiter’s two casks or tuns, cf. 10627-34. Ln and Lc 
(6747-824 n.) note the parallel in De cons., II, pr. 2. 13, and the fact 
that Boethius does not cite Homer (Iliad, xxiv. 527), the early source. 
For further history of the figure in Plato, the neo-Platonists, and me- 
dieval commentators, see Bieler 1957, p. 20; Courcelle 1967, pp. 106, 
1 3 1 , x 45 > 166-67, 2 8i, and PL 68. The idea behind the two tuns is 
similar to that behind the two rivers of Fortune in Alanus, Anticlau- 
dianus, VII. 439-80; Jean uses the passage at 5978-6078. 

6823 sweetened wine (piment) : Ln (specifically, wine, honey, and 
spices); cf. 8379. 

6855-61 P 132. On Fortune’s wheel, see Patch 1927, pp. 147-77; 
Courcelle 1967, pp. 141-52 and, for a collection of MS illustrations, 
Pis. 65-86. 

6858 the conjuror* s strap -folding trick'. Ln. A strap can be folded 
so that no matter which loop the player places his finger in, the “con- 
juror,” by pulling on the suitably arranged ends of the strap, can leave 
the player’s finger free of or, alternatively, enclosed within the loop. 

6866, 6867-68 Ln 

6900- 6 G 179 

6901- 78 P 133-34 

6901-27 T 260. Cf. 7185-228. 

6909, 6916 Ln 

6917-24 Ln Lc (Cf. 4218-20.) 

6928-7228 Cf. 5697-724. 



6928-29 G 169 
6929 Ln (See 5537.) 

6940 Ln 
6943-78 G 229 

6943 - 44 > 6956-58 Cf. 7153-80 n. 

6951-58 Ln 
6965-78 Cf. 4403-21 n. 

6988 Ln Lc 
7016, 7022 Ln 

7 ° 37“57 Cf. Chaucer, Manciple's Tale y CT , ix. 329-33. 
7037 - 43 > 7053-54 Ln Lc 

7061-62 On the utility of pagan literature, see Augustine, De doc- 
trina christiana , 11. xviii-xlii, particularly xl, where he uses the simile of 
Egyptian gold for useful pagan learning. 

7072 P 303 (Cf. 5320.) 

7078-82 Cf. 7153-80 n. 

7081-86 oppose , reply (oposer, respon) : terms relating to scholastic 
disputation. P 28-29 discusses these, obicier Object,’ and soudre ^olve, 
resolve.’ Cf. 7106-7, 8889-90, 17101-2, 17108-10, 21497-21500. 

7099-105 Timaeus : Ln Lc note that the source is Calcidius’s trans- 
lation of Plato’s Timaeus , ed. 1962, p. 44. Cf. also 4420-21 n. 
7099-101 Cf. 4369 n. 

7104-18 G 230-32 
7106-7 Cf. 7081-86 n. 

7121-22 God . . . well done (E Deus, qui est sages e fis. / Tient 
a bien quanque je fis,) : Lc corrects Ln’s errors in punctuation and sup- 
ports this translation. 

7131-47 Ln 
7137 Ln Lc 
7H3 Ln 
7 H 7 Lc 

7 i 53"8o Ln quotes Alanus, De planctu , PL 210, col. 451. On 
the subject of the medieval understanding of poetry and of pagan poetic 
materials, see R 61, 286-317, 337-65; F 134-35; Hill 1966, p. 114. 
In the Romance , says Robertson (p. 61), “it is appropriate that Raison 
should be the source of instruction on the subject of poetic appreciation.” 
Cf. P 19-23; Pare, Brunet, Tremblay 1933, pp. 116-20. The point 
here is that the poetic theory developed by Reason follows the tradi- 
tional Christian pattern, with the distinction between the letter, the 
obscure fable or the integument, and the verity which lies hidden by this 
dark exterior (7162-68); Reason enunciates the Horatian combination 
of the pleasing and the useful in a way which reflects Augustine’s ideas 
on these categories (7169-80) ; cf. Soliloquiorum, 11. xi (19) : “a fable 
is a lie composed for utility and delight”; De diversis questionibus y xxx: 
“Many visible things are useful; but in anything useful, the true utility 

384 fNjotes 

from which we benefit and which we call divine providence, that utility 
is invisible.” De doctrina christiana, III. x (16): “Utility is what charity 
does for one’s own benefit.” Cf. Quain 1945? PP- 2I 5 > 22 °- 

P 19-23 discusses several of these matters in connection with his 
examination of the terms glose , gloser, esfondre , integumenz, moele, 
escorce. Cf. 2071-72, 6943-44, 6956-58, 7078-82, 7181-84, 7190- 
92, 7559-61, 11858-60, 15148-50, 17627-28, 21574. 

7168 Ln Lc 

7171-76 Ln (Horace, Ars foetica , 333-34) 

7212-22 G 179-80 
7228 Ln 

7229-33 Ln (Cf. 3096-110.) 


7231-10002 (Chapter 5) R 199: “The discourse of Amis, who is 
a worldly friend not exactly of the kind advocated by Cicero, is an 
essay in worldly wisdom. Flattery, hypocrisy, force, deceit, a contempt 
of marriage, and bribery are strongly urged as proper weapons of a 
lover. If Raison gives us a wise attitude toward love, Amis furnishes a 
wily approach to the same subject.” Cf. Introduction. On Cicero s ad- 
vice concerning friends, see Reason’s account at 4685-768. On Friend, 
see F 140-60; T 241-45, 247-48. We should note that, following 
Reason’s overt and wide-ranging examination of love, “we find our- 
selves,” as Miss Tuve observes (262), “building a definition for love by 
negatives, as we progress through the ironic presentation of unrelieved 
inadequacies and deceptions and rationalizations and errors.” The process 
continues to the end of the poem; cf. T 239. P 136-54 gives an analysis 
of this chapter but tends to take it seriously as a direct expression of 
Jean de Meun’s thought, leading toward a supposed Aristotelian natural- 
ism (p. 341); cf. 8005-154 n., 4975-5588 n. I omit further specific 
references to P’s discussion in the pages noted or to G’s seriatim dis- 
cussion of this chapter, pp. 345-5 1 • 

7 2 33, 7261, 7268 Ln 

7307-794 The passage, as Lc notes, is “strongly inspired by Ovid’s 
Ars amatoria .” Both Lc and Ln cite and quote specific passages, and 
I omit further references to such notes. The main passages in Ovid are 
as follows: 1. I 49 “ 5 2 > 277-78, 343 " 9 °> 441 - 44 , 657-78, 705-20; 
11. 161-66, 198-211, 429-32; ill. 485-86, 497 - 9 8 - There is a minor 
erratum in Lc, 1, 290, line 9 from bottom: for IV, 485-86, read III, 
485-86 . 



73 1 5 Lc 

7352 Ln Lc 

7355-56 and Foul Mouth is a trickster (boulierres) . Take away 
the tricks (bou), and he remains a thief (lierres) : The play on words 
is reinforced by the rhyme, boulierres / lierres. 

7365-69 Ln Lc 
7369 Ln 
7392-93 Ln L c 
7405 - 7 . 7408 Ln 
7410-14 Lc Ln 
7415 , 7534 ) 7541-42 Ln 
7555-58 G 75 
7559-61 Cf. 7153-180 n. 

7605-6 Ln 
7625 Lc 
7670, 7762 Ln 

7761-66 Cf. Chaucer, Manciple's Tale, CT, ix. 183-86. 

7764-66 Ln Lc 
7768-70 Ln 
7791-94 G 180 
7847-48 Ln Lc 
7863-66 Ln 

7887 ff. Lc notes that the long development on poverty expands 
Ovid, Ars amatoria, 11. 161-66. 

7911, 7912 Ln 
7914 Ln (See 10040.) 

7932 p 73 

7940 Ln 

7954-56 p 73 

7985-86 Ln Lc (Ovid, Remedia amoris , 749) 

8003-4 Ln Lc (Cf. 3015.) 

8005-154 P 1 1 7-1 9 discusses this passage as one of Jean’s state- 
ments on Fortune, parallel to those at 3981-91 (Guillaume), 4837- 
974, and 5877-6900. “The ideas of Friend on the subject of Fortune,” 
he says, p. 118, “coincide perfectly with those of Reason” (cf. 4975- 
5588 n.). That the correspondence is somewhat less than perfect is 
apparent when we consider the nature of the speaker, Friend, and the 
context of the remarks on Fortune, for it is against Poverty that Friend 
is warning, and the seemingly good doctrine about how Fortune reveals 
one’s true friends becomes utterly hollow in such a context. Cf. 7987- 
8004 and 8155-206 as well as the entire thrust of Friend’s speech. 
Embedding sound doctrine in unsound argument is one of Jean’s favorite 
techniques of irony. Cf. 4343-45 n., 19931-20667 n., 7231-10002 n., 
8355-9634 n. 

8005 Ln 



8047-53 Ln Lc 
8059-60, 8073, 8081 Ln 
8099-114 Ln notes (8100 n.) that the beggars ( It mendiant) are 
the mendicant orders, particularly the Minorites (Franciscans) and 
Preaching Friars (Dominicans) ; Lc thinks that the beggars may be 
simply professional beggars. Ln is probably right; the phrase sound of 
body ( foissant de cors\ cf. 11408 forz on de cors) recalls the Latin 
validus corf ore which recurs frequently in the antimendicant writings of 
Guillaume de Saint-Amour. See, e.g., Resfonsiones , Nos. 7, 8, 11, ed. 
1 95 1 , pp. 341-44; De fericulis, xii, Ofera 1632, pp. 48, 52; Collec- 
tiones catholice canonice serif ture, p. 218. Ln quotes these texts at 
1 1317-23 n., 1 1345-49 n., 1 1366-74 n. See also De valido mendicante 
quaestio , pp. 80-87. False Seeming develops the theme of manual labor 
and the cases in which one may beg; see 11317-508. Cf. P 187-88. 

8128 Ln. P 303, in comparing 5020, 5029, again neglects the 
distinction in Jean’s literary method between direct and ironic develop- 
ment; the contexts, with Reason as the speaker in one case and Friend 
in the other, establish the distinction. 

8143 Ln 

8148-54, 8174-78, 8185-88 Ln Lc 

8199-354 Ln Lc note several parallels to Ovid, Ars amatoria y II. 
13, 107-8, 1 1 1-20, 143-44, 261-70, 273-78; I omit their specific 

8216 Ln 
8223-26 p 73-74 
8240-42 Ln Lc 
8244 Ln 
8245-56 G 194-95 
8252-56 G 1 8 1 
8279 Ln 

8287-92, 8293-96 Ln Lc note parallels to Juvenal, Satire vi. 53- 
54, 209-10. 

8306 Cf. 4430-3 in. 

8312-13 figure (fourme) : On the use of fourme ‘shape,’ see P 65 ; 
cf. 9059-60, 16038, 16755-56, 16109-11. 

8324 Ln 
8351 Ln Lc 
8353 L n 

8355-9664 Lc notes that the description of the Golden Age is 
interrupted by the passage on the Jealous Husband and the satire on 
marriage (8455-9492). The principal “writings” that Jean de Meun 
may have used for the Golden Age motif were, according to Ln and 
Lc, Ovid, Met., 1. 89-115, 127-50; De cons., II, m. 5. I omit specific 
references to such parallels. The motif, Lc notes, was a commonplace 
in classical rhetoric. On Jean’s use of it, cf. 5535-54 n., 20033 n.; T 241, 

V^otes 387 

260-61. In this and the later case, Jean achieves irony through incon- 
gruous juxtaposition of speaker (Friend and Genius) and motif (Golden 
Age). Here the contrast is between the ideal situation of the Golden 
Age and the far-from-ideal situation of the Jealous Husband as well as 
between the general tenor of Friend’s advice and the picture of the 
Golden Age. Cf. 4975”55^8 n., 8005-154 n. Friedman 1959 argues 
for a reading of the passage in context and against the assumption that 
the Jealous Husband expresses Jean de Meun’s opinions. Cf. Introduc- 

8355-8393 There are several parallels to this passage in Chaucer, 
The Former A ge\ for details, see Robinson 1957, pp. 859-60. Boethius 
is, of course, a common source. 

8369 Ln 

8379 Ln (Cf. 6823 n.) 

8380 Ln 

8386-89, 8393, 8399-402 Ln quotes Juvenal, Satire vi. 2-3, 5-7. 

8423-24 Ln 

8447-48 Cf. 4975-5588 n. 

845 1 -5 3 Ln Lc (Ovid, Met., n. 846-47) 

8463 Lc 

8465-66 to have control over the body . . . of his wife (la maistrise 
aveir / Dou cors sa fame) : F 155-56 notes the parallel to 1 Cor. 7:4, 
“The wife hath not the power of her own body, but the husband,” a 
parallel that casts doubt on the validity of Friend’s analysis of marital 

8480 Lc 

8486-87 Ln 

8488-89 Ln Lc quote, or cite, evidence to indicate that to strike 
someone in the face with an inflated bladder indicated that he was a 
simpleton, or was wool-gathering. 

8509 For whom . . . chestnuts?'. Ln. “Who do you think you’re 
fooling?” has the same sense but not the imagery. Cf. 8502. 

8560 Ln 

8561-832 Ln Lc note that Theophrastus’s Aureolus is lost, that our 
knowledge of it comes principally through Jerome, Adversus Jovinianum 
(1. 47), and that Jean’s version of Jerome probably came through John 
of Salisbury, Policraticus y vm. xi. The “Valerius” passages are from 
Walter Map, De nugis curialium , iv. 3, ed. 1914, pp. 143-58, entitled 
Dissuasio Valerii ad Rufinum fhilosophum ne uxorem ducat . Lc notes 
that Map had earlier presented this section of the De nugis separately 
as the work of the fictitious “Valerius,” who was then supposedly 
identified with Valerius Maximus (Delhaye 1951, pp. 79-82). Jean 
also borrows from Juvenal’s Satires vi and vn. I omit specific references 
to parallels, which are detailed in the notes of Ln and Lc. 

8561 P 95-96 

388 fr(ptes 

8579-600 Cf. Chaucer, Wife of Bath's Prologue , CT } 111. 248- 

8603-4 Ln 

8608-50 Ln Lc quote and cite Livy, I. lviii fL 

8690, 8756 Ln ... 

8759-832 Ln Lc note the source as Abelard’s Historia calamitatum , 

ed. 1962, pp. 75-76, 1 *4- 
8759, 8769 P 96, 52 
8784, 8789-90 Ln 

8801 another abbey'. Ln (Saint-Gildas, in Brittany) 

8822, 8827-30, 8834-35, 8836-38, 8870 Ln 
8874 Ln (Cf. 213 n.) 

8889-92 Cf. 7081-86; see P 51. 

8899, 8900 Ln 

8908 Lc. On dung-heaps, cf. 18754 n. 

8911-12 Ln 

8921-56 Ln Lc (Boethius, De cons., Ill, pr. 8.10) 

8929 explicate the sophism (le sofime deviser): P 29 discusses this 
scholastic phrase in connection with the terms distinter, distinction. Cf. 

11063-64; P 52. 

8944-45 Ln 
8957-58 Ln Lc 
8968-70 Ln 

9009-12 Ln Lc (Virgil, Aeneidy VI. 563) 

9015, 9020-30, 9039-70 Ln 
9040 Lc 

9059-60 Cf. 8212-13 n.; P 52. 

9081 camelot: Ln defines it as “a kind of costly fabric. The New 
(Oxford) English Dictionary , s.v. camlet , is uncertain of origin, noting 
that it was early associated with camel , but that it may spring from 
Arabic Khaml, Khamlat ‘nap or pile on cloth.’ Camelot appears to have 
been a rich fabric, sometimes with a velvety or plushy pile, but it has 
varied widely in materials and weave. Cf. 12045 n * 

9 I 3 I Ln 

9143-54 Ln Lc (Juvenal, Satire VI. 133-35) 

9155-56 All you women . . . desire: See Friedman 1959; 8355- 
9664 n. 

9185 Ln 

9187-90 Solinus : Cf. 5847-62 n. Ln Lc quote the passage. 
9187-88 Cf. 6300-3 n. 

9191-206 Cf. Chaucer, Wife of Bath’s Prologue, Cl, ill. *] 21-20. 

9191-202 Ln 
919 1 , 9203 Lc 
9204 Ln Lc 
9267 See 9081 n. 



9282-84, 9306 Ln 

93 i 3“6° Ln Lc (Juvenal, Satire vi. 231-41) 

9328-56 G 389-90 
9329 Ln 

933 ° that mackerel } that fimfing whore (Maquerele e charaier- 
resse) : Levy 1952 translates charaierresse as ( futain / rather than as 
c sorciere y (Langlois 1924, v, 148). 

9336 , 9339 , 9340 , 9343 > 9361-504, 93 6 6, 9416-20 Ln 
9416 Ln Lc (Prov. 9:13) 

9417-20 Ln Lc (Map 1914, p. 153) 

9427 his equal and his companion'. A parallel may be suggested to 
Robert de Sorbon’s sermon De matrimonio : “Again, woman was made 
from man’s rib, not f